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Montpelier Unitarian Church

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1865, Thomas W. Silloway. 130 Main St., City of Montpelier
  • (Photograph by Curtis B. Johnson, C. B. Johnson Photography)

Seven years after Silloway was removed from the project to rebuild the Vermont State House (WA20), the Bostonian returned to Montpelier. Now an ordained Universalist minister, as well as an architect, he concentrated his mature career on some four hundred religious commissions, mostly for the Unitarian Church, but also including Goddard Seminary in Barre (1866–1870; demolished) and the Community Church in Quechee (1873; 1905 Main Street). The Montpelier church is a more monumental and resolved version of his Universalist Church (1850) in Milford, Massachusetts, published in his 1852 additions to the sixth edition of Edward Shaw's Civil Architecture. While the church's basic massing is Federal, the interior format, the sense of proportions, and the detailing are quite different. The narrow central pavilion is dominated by a single colossal round-arched doorway, framed by paneled pilasters on high plinths that carry a pediment, which opens into a vestibule that leads down to a ground-floor vestry and up to the auditorium. The arched theme is reiterated in the tall windows of the upper floor, in the base of the tower, and in the openings of a square belfry. The multistaged octagonal spire is similar to that of the Milford church. The church's design is sufficiently classical to suggest Federal roots, but it has a distinct vigor and boldness of texture. The hoods and sills of the auditorium windows, the belvedere-like quality of the tower base, and the building's original polychrome gray color scheme place it solidly within Italianate fashion of its times.

Writing Credits

Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson


What's Nearby


Glenn M. Andres and Curtis B. Johnson, "Montpelier Unitarian Church", [Montpelier, 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, 305-306.

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