Built to replace the former St. Sylvia’s Catholic Church (1881-1909), the Church of the Holy Redeemer in Bar Harbor stands as one of the more imposing religious buildings in town. The new church was envisioned by Rev. James O’Brien, who wanted a larger church structure closer to downtown Bar Harbor than the current St. Sylvia’s. The Neo-Gothic stone church was designed by Bangor architect Victor Hodgins, and was constructed from granite blocks quarried from Washington County, Maine. Inside, massive trusses from felled cyprus trees nearby support the roof and stone walls. Gorgeous stained glass windows line the walls which flood the interior with color.
This stunning Gothic Revival church was built in 1843, on the site of the blockhouse, erected 80 years prior for the settlers of the area from native attack. In the 17th and 18th centuries, many rural parts of New England had blockhouses erected to allow the settlers a defensive fort from attack. The blockhouses were often garrisoned wooden structures with small windows on all sides to allow for gunfire to attackers below. The structure would protect those inside from arrows and melee weapons. This building however, was constructed later for the Universalists, who believed in “universal salvation,” who had been meeting since 1821 in a schoolhouse beside the town common. The church, in its original state with its steeple and clock, was an extremely sophisticated example in wood of the Gothic Revival style with its pinnacles, lancet windows and pilasters. Sadly, the steeple and clock were removed in the early 1920’s for safety reasons as the structure could not support it without significant engineering. The church and congregation changed to the United Church of Christ-Congregational denomination in 1964. After that, the building was occupied by a brewery (believe it or not), before being reverted back to a church by the current congregation.
Located on Trinity Park in Wesleyan Grove (aka the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association), this 1878 church served the year round Methodist community in Oak Bluffs. The Trinity Methodist Church is a towered, Victorian Gothic structure of some distinction. Edward M. Hyde, a Methodist minister who had trained in architecture and art, designed it. The property that the church and Parish House sit on belongs to the Association, but the buildings are maintained by the congregation. Interestingly, should the congregation disband, the buildings would return to the Association.
Christ Church in Swansea, Massachusetts is a turn-of-the-century Gothic Revival Church, that echoes medieval country chapels in England. Designed by English-born architect Henry Vaughan (1845-1917), one of the most influential ecclesiastical architects in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this church clearly evokes his early days in the English countryside. Vaughan is most notable for being supervising architect of the Washington National Cathedral just a decade after this church was complete. Endowment for the church (and many other buildings) was a gift to the town by Mrs. Elizabeth Case Stevens, the recent widow of Frank S. Stevens, the richest man in Swansea. The church – which replaced an earlier wood frame Gothic Revival edifice – is constructed of rough faced stone blocks laid in regular courses. Its crenelated west tower, conical stair tower, buttressed gabled end wall, and pointed arch window all add to the Gothic aesthetic. The church had a series of stained glass windows donated from the 1960s-1970s which depict various events in the Bible.
The Boston College campus at Chestnut Hill represents the best of the Collegiate Gothic style in the Boston area.
Boston College was founded by the Society of Jesus in 1863, and is one of twenty-eight Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States. Originally located on Harrison Avenue in the South End of Boston, where it shared quarters with the Boston College High School, the College outgrew its urban setting toward the end of its first fifty years. A new location was selected in Chestnut Hill, then almost rural, and four parcels of land were acquired in 1907. A design competition for the development of the campus was won by the firm of Maginnis and Walsh, and ground was broken on June 19, 1909, for the construction of Gasson Hall.
Originally called the Recitation Building, then the Tower Building, Gasson Hall was finally named in honor of Father Thomas I. Gasson, founder of the Chestnut Hill campus. The building was designed by Charles D. Maginnis and built from stone quarried on the present campus. The style of the building and much of the campus can be classified as Collegiate Gothic. Gasson Hall was publicized by Ralph Adams Cram, who helped establish Collegiate Gothic as the prevailing architectural style on American university campuses for much of the 20th century.
At its interior, the Rotunda at the center of the building is a special treat to behold. A blending of different mediums of art including: architecture, sculpture, stained glass, and painted murals, the space is truly awe-inspiring. The dominant feature inside the rotunda is the large marble statue of St. Michael triumphing over Satan. The art piece was commissioned by Gardner Brewer, a Boston merchant for his great hall in his Beacon Hill house. Brewer hired Scipione Tadolini, a renowned sculptor in Rome, and he (along with his assistants) turned a massive block of the finest Carrara marble into the epic battle between good and evil. The piece was eventually purchased by Boston College when they envisioned it to be placed in their Rotunda.