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First Congregational Church

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1894, Robert H. Robertson. 27 Church St., City of St. Albans

The imposing Romanesque Revival First Congregational Church at the northeast corner of Taylor Park is the third to occupy this site. When their brick Italianate building of 1862 burned in 1891, the congregation rebuilt bigger and better. Perhaps because of patronage from the Smith family of railroad magnates, the church turned to Robert H. Robertson, the architect of another Vermont railroad tycoon, W. Seward Webb. Robertson, whose work at Shelburne Farms (CH59) would have been known to the Smiths, provided St. Albans with a powerful brick pile that combines features found at Shelburne with forms reminiscent of his railroad work. The church is essentially a broad gabled and buttressed nave that is picturesquely extended at its corners with lower, hipped-roofed porte-cochere, parish house, and polygonal stair tower. The manner in which the stair tower grows out from the main roof slope suggests Robertson's debt to H. H. Richardson, as does the great tower that dominates the facade and terminates the row of buildings facing the park. The tower, with its tall narrow panels and slit windows, carries a pyramidal cap with a clock on each face. The sobriety of the massive dark building is relieved by its variety of window openings—round-arched, circular, and Tudor Revival casements—and by the decorative touches of concentric brickwork surrounds, terra-cotta hood and roll moldings, and terra-cotta crockets and gable faces on the tower. The result is rich and monochromatic, well suited to the prosperity of this booming railroad town and to the permanence the congregation hoped to achieve this time around. Inside, the church contains a series of memorial Tiffany windows donated by the Smith family.

Writing Credits

Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson


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Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson, "First Congregational Church", [St. Albans, 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, 210-211.

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