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Chepachet Union Church

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1846. 1138 Putnam Pk.d

Now for the Greek Revival counterpart to the Federal style of Chepachet's Freewill Baptist Church ( GL5). A low, spreading block is fronted by a classical Doric portico, but with its four columns pulled apart to make more of a deep porch than a portico, lifted on a platform reached by a broad flight of stairs. In contrast to Freewill Baptist, the entrance is now within the hollow of the porch, enclosed in the enveloping mass of the building in a way which exploits the dramatic contrast between solid and void. The paneled door rising the full height of the porch (its upper part false) is an astonishing gesture toward monumentality for a country church. Originally the windows on either side were comparably scaled, extending from the top of the porch the full width of the vertical frames still evident on the facade, down to the level of the sills of the tiny replacements necessitated by vestibule renovations inside. Originally, too, the tower was grander: not one cupola, but another slightly smaller on top of it in a two-tiered, telescoped composition. The top tier was lost to the 1938 hurricane. Still, the well-proportioned lower cupola which remains nicely complements the squat density of the block below, all of which is piquantly relieved by the arched window tensely crowded into the apex of the pediment, with its shutters sprung open as if releasing the cuckoo from its clockcase. Like the Baptist church, the interior retains much that goes back to the original design, but also with incongruous additions. Union Church suffers, too, from a recent parish house addition which, although well considered in itself and set back, is incompatible in form and scale with the church and might be better screened by planting.

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.
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Citation

William H. Jordy et al., "Chepachet Union Church", [Glocester, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/RI-01-GL14.

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