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Christ Episcopal Church

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1891–1894, Henry W. Congdon. 1905, bell tower and spire. Elm and Broad sts.

Although its theme is the English country church, the exterior aspect of this church is less ingratiating than compelling in the bluntness with which well-crafted gray granite and blue slate make a loose composition around the culminating tower and spire. Inside, it is substantially intact, despite some modernization of the sort typical for such interiors. Plaster walls have been painted lighter than they probably originally were, and the blending and color from stenciled patterns which presumably decorated the walls have been eliminated. Chandeliers have been replaced, as has some of the chancel furniture. Even so, the impressive wooden roof structure, the pews, other chancel furniture, and a fine rood screen remain from the original interior. (Whereas the rood screen once veiled the altar in good Victorian High Church fashion, the altar has been repositioned in front of the screen, in accord with the modern theology of participation.) Above all, the voluminous space remains. The relative shortness of its length and the height of its roof give an almost domical sensation to the nave, into which the front wall of the chancel swells in a gentle curve like a proscenium stage, with generous openings into chapels to either side. It is the most ambitious late-nineteenth-century Gothic Revival church in southern Rhode Island, the product of a prosperous congregation, but especially of the munificence of its principal donor, Harry Cross, manager of the nearby White Rock Mill (see entry, below).

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.
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Citation

William H. Jordy et al., "Christ Episcopal Church", [Westerly, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/RI-01-WE13.

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 411-411.

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