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St. Stephen's Episcopal Church

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1826–1827, Lavius Fillmore(?). 3 Main St., Middlebury village
  • St. Stephen's Episcopal Church (Photograph by Curtis B. Johnson, C. B. Johnson Photography)

This first Gothic Revival church in Vermont was built under the leadership of the Reverend Benjamin Bosworth Smith. Subsequently the bishop of Kentucky and then national presiding bishop, Smith was an important proponent of Gothic for his denomination. In 1827, in Middlebury's Episcopal Register, he advocated the model of “humble English country churches . . . snug, low Gothic structures, with massive walls of rough unhewn stone, adorned with a few plain windows and a decent humble tower.” As designed, most likely, by Lavius Fillmore, head of Smith's building committee, St. Stephen's follows this model. It is a simple building of local limestone that shows close ties to two important precedents—John Holden Greene's St. John's Cathedral (1810) in Providence, Rhode Island, which Smith had known as a student at Brown University, and St. Anne's (1824) in Lowell, Massachusetts, specifically noted in a Middlebury newspaper in 1826. The ogival detailing around the main door was most likely derived from William Pain's The Builder's Companion (1762). The Gothic Revival lines of this important building are still readable despite adjustments over time. The clear glass windows were replaced with stained glass during the 1850s and 1860s. In the 1870s the original Federal interior with its coved ceiling was remodeled in a Gothic mode, the flush boards of the upper tower were sheathed in polychrome slate, and a side chapel was added. In 1998 Guillot Vivian Viehmann Architects remodeled the chapel into a vestibule for a modest office and meeting room wing.

Writing Credits

Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson


What's Nearby


Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson, "St. Stephen's Episcopal Church", [Middlebury, Vermont], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Vermont

Buildings of Vermont, Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013, 121-122.

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