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Christ Church

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1883–1884. 1659 Lonsdale Ave. (northeast corner of John St.)

The Lonsdale Company financed the rebuilding of this church after a fire. Typically, a booklength history of the church commemorates its pastors and deacons, but not its architect. Whoever the designer, the composition of the sweeping curve of the pyramidal roof, which rises between flanking gables for arched portals to the culminating bell cupola, comes as a happy juxtaposition to St. Jude. (Was the shape of the later church conditioned by this nearby Victorian precedent?) Designed at the height of the popularity of Richardsonian Romanesque, while the master himself still lived, this manages, as a composition especially, more originality than most of its type. Its massing seems to be unique in the state. Like Richardson's village Romanesque, too, it maintains a nice balance between monumental effect and village allusion, although its impact was more impressive before asphalt shingles replaced slate after a 1950 hurricane. A connecting row of windows unites the portal gables; above this, a three-light stained glass window, penetrating the roof under a simple trapdoor opening, completes a composition in which every element speaks to its purpose without affectation.

At the opposite end of the building, the same bold shaping of mass appears in the large, semicircular apse, which swells directly from the upper part of the gable. It appears, too, in the buttressing of the side walls, and in the directness with which bands of windows (similar to those between the front portals) are fitted between. Although competently handled, neither the detailing of the red brick trim against gray granite nor the proportion of the openings to the whole quite lives up to the massing of the building. But it teaches the big lessons. The interior, with timber trussing suggestive of millwork in its heft, is quite well preserved. The mill relinquished control of the church only in 1947; until then, the company took care of all repairs, and even the minister was on the company payroll.

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.
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Citation

William H. Jordy et al., "Christ Church", [Lincoln, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/RI-01-LI4.

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 191-191.

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