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Grace Episcopal Church

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1855–1858, 1870, James Douglas; 1885 interior alterations, David R. Jones with Burling and Whitehouse. 116 W. Washington Ave.
  • (Photograph by Andrew Hope)

This graceful yellow limestone church was inspired by early English Gothic models, appropriate for the American branch of the Church of England. The buttressed square bell tower, which was not completed until 1870, rises at the corner of the facade to allow entrance from two sides. Douglas articulated each successive level of the three-stage tower by grouping together the corresponding number of windows. Its wooden polygonal spire is pierced by gabled dormers. Lancet windows and doors, along with finials (originally taller and more elaborate) at the base of the spire, enhance the sense of upward movement. English immigrant James Livesay of Madison, who was a member of the congregation, built the church.

In 1885, local architect Jones, collaborating with a Chicago firm, altered the interior. Douglas’s original design had featured a high, vaulted ceiling with arches outlined in wood, but it proved difficult to heat. The new lowered ceiling stayed true to the original Gothic Revival theme by placing a hammer-beam ceiling below the old vaulting and embellishing it with quatrefoils and a large pointed arch. In the 1920s, the congregation added a second bay to the church and built a chapel along Carroll Street in a harmonious design. Stained glass windows were first added in 1887, including an English-made Resurrection window. The baptistery window of 1899 was made by Louis Comfort Tiffany’s company.

Writing Credits

Marsha Weisiger et al.


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Marsha Weisiger et al., "Grace Episcopal Church", [Madison, Wisconsin], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Wisconsin

Buildings of Wisconsin, Marsha Weisiger and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2017, 443-443.

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