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St. John's Episcopal Church (Red Church)

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Red Church
1858–1859, Clifton A. Hall. 1885–1886, 1888, chapel and tower, Hall and Makepeace. 191 County Rd.

St. John's is a fine surviving example of the small-town Episcopal church of the mid-nineteenth century, with typical additions from the later decades of that century. The Episcopal denomination experienced tremendous growth in Rhode Island from the 1830s through the 1850s and established many churches, particularly in the smaller communities and mill villages of the state. This growth corresponded with increasing reliance on the Gothic style as the only proper style for the Episcopal house of worship, and, for smaller congregations, on models derived from the medieval parish churches in English villages. St. John's is a charming interpretation of the type, calling to mind the work of Frank Mills (who published a pattern book of such designs) and variously evident in a few other Episcopal country churches of the period. It is among the earliest known works, and is the first known church, of Clifton A. Hall, who began practice about 1852. As originally built the church consisted of a simple gable-roofed, aisleless nave with entrance vestibule, chancel, and wooden crenellated parapets. The present contrast between the taut brick walls and the brownstone trim that appears to cut across the planar surfaces was not so marked, for the brick masonry was initially stuccoed and sanded to imitate stone. Addition of the Burrington Memorial Chapel on the north side of the nave and the Mathewson Memorial Tower, with its connection to the entrance vestibule, at the north corner of the facade made the structure both more picturesque and more monumental. So few Episcopal churches of the 1850s have survived that St. John's is an important relic of a type and an era.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.

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