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Church of the Holy Cross

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1845–1848, Richard Upjohn. West Main Rd. (at Oliphant Ln.)
  • Church of the Holy Cross (John M. Miller)

Two years before Sarah Gibbs made a gift of St. Mary's Church in Portsmouth (PO16), also by Upjohn, she asked him to design this delightful country church. In contrast to the masonry design of the Portsmouth church, this is a frame construction with fishscale shingling in the rural manner which Upjohn recommended for the most economical churches. The gable- roofed church is fronted by a projecting porch, also gabled and interlocked by a stubby tower. This is mostly an open belfry, each face with paired openings shaped as pointed arches, bound together by ribbonlike extensions from their apexes, which overarch the two below. A mere witch's cap of a steeple topped with a cross provides the climax. Inside (meticulously restored in 1970), all is pristine carpentry scaled to the tiny space, with altar and reredos dating from 1895 as the sole alterations from the original design. This church ranks with South Ferry Congregational Church in Narragansett (NA2), another fishscale-shingled church, as one of the most charming mid-nineteenth-century wooden country churches in the state. It is amazing good fortune that two country churches of such outstanding quality as St. Mary's and the Church of the Holy Cross, designed by one of America's leading church architects, should appear within a ten-minute drive of one another.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Church of the Holy Cross", [Middletown, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 509-509.

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