At a time when Vermont was still building Federal churches in the manner of Charles Bulfinch and Asher Benjamin, Windsor tastemakers produced a radical alternative. The builders of St. Paul's Church turned to Boston's leading post-Bulfinch architect for a design at the vanguard of classicism's evolution toward the Greek Revival. Alexander Parris had worked closely with Bulfinch, but he had also worked with Benjamin Latrobe in Virginia and was influenced by his spare geometrically organized surfaces. These would become hallmarks of Parris's stone Boston buildings, beginning with the Sears House (1816) and St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral (1820), and continuing through Quincy Market (1826). The temple-like St. Paul's in Boston may have prompted Windsor commissioners to seek Parris's designs (these are preserved in the archives of Historic New England). The resulting church is brick with stone and wood detailing, and is related to the Federal style of Parris's Appleton and Parker houses (1819) in Boston. But here he has compressed entrances, stairs, gallery, sanctuary, chancel, and vestries into a single temple-form block with a continuous full entablature beneath a simple pedimented roof. The facade is organized into porch and vestibule zones by brick pilasters and stuccoed Ionic columns in antis. The side walls have tall arched windows, indicating the sanctuary, between end bays with minor doors beneath circular stuccoed panels. A severe, flush-boarded cube forms the base for the octagonal, louvered belfry and dome. Here, in the oldest Episcopal edifice in regular use in the state, these simple forms, elemental geometries, and substantial classical details announce the arrival of Greek Revival architecture in Vermont.
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St. Paul's Episcopal Church
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