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United Presbyterian Church

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1909, Frank L. Austin. 1773 E. Craftsbury Rd., East Craftsbury
  • United Presbyterian Church (Photograph by Curtis B. Johnson, C. B. Johnson Photography)
  • United Presbyterian Church (Photograph by Curtis B. Johnson, C. B. Johnson Photography)

This shingled church is the product of religious dissent and a native son's support for his birthplace. In the early nineteenth century Scottish immigrants to East Craftsbury established the Covenanters' Church, a Reformed Presbyterian group that prohibited earthly convenants, precluding members from taking the Vermont Freeman's oath and, thus, from voting or holding political office. When a younger generation seceded in 1906 to practice a more lenient faith and the number of Covenanters dwindled, they sold their Greek Revival church for use as a cattle shed rather than let it pass into the hands of the upstart congregation. Wealthy New York lawyer and summer resident John Woodruff Simpson acquired the building and reerected it in 1912 as part of the academy complex in Craftsbury Common. The Simpson family, patrons of August Rodin and Edward Steichen, dominated the cultural life of East Craftsbury. They hired local Colonial Revivalist builder Fred Newton to build and remodel several houses and their extensive “Old Brass Knocker Farm.” Simpson pledged to support the construction of a new church building if the congregation hired an architect to design it.

A young Frank L. Austin of Burlington produced a simple gabled rectangle of a church with cross gables suggesting a transept, clusters of lancet windows expressing the interior spatial arrangement, a projecting corner tower, and a pair of entrance porches with gables matching the slope of the main roof. The walls are shingled and flared for the belfry stage of the tower. Details, from exposed rafter tails to clustered square porch posts, are simple and picked out in contrasting colors. Still touched here with Gothic references, this would soon give way in Austin's work to an increasingly Arts and Crafts vocabulary in his later shingled designs (FR29). Under the influence of the Simpsons and their builder, Newton, aspects of this church design can be found repeated throughout the early-twentieth-century work in the village.

Writing Credits

Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson


What's Nearby


Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson, "United Presbyterian Church", [Craftsbury, 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, 247-248.

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