St. Paul’s Cathedral, Burlington // 1973

St. Paul’s Church in Burlington, Vermont, was organized in 1830, when Burlington’s population was about 3,500. About 55 Episcopalians met at a local hotel and laid the groundwork for the parish. In 1832, the fledgling parish dedicated its new building, a neo-Gothic limestone structure, which was enlarged multiple times as the congregation grew as the city did. In 1965, the Diocesan Convention voted that St. Paul’s Church be designated a Cathedral Church of the Diocese (one of two in the state). Just six years later, it was destroyed by fire, sparked by an electrical malfunction in the basement, leading to a new evolution of the church. At the time of the fire, the City of Burlington was engaged in massive urban renewal projects. As a part of this program, the City offered to swap the land on which Old St. Paul’s had stood for a spacious new tract overlooking Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks. Although the decision to change locations was a contentious one, the parish did accept the offer. When discussing designs for a new cathedral, there was a strong desire to make a new statement in architecture, diverging from the traditional Gothic or Colonial designs seen all over the country. An international competition was held to determine the architect of the new Cathedral. The winner was the local firm Burlington Associates, now Truex, Cullins & Partners. Completed in 1973, the Cathedral is made of stressed concrete. The structure stands strong and firm, yet is welcoming. Windows provide sweeping views of Lake Champlain and the distant Adirondacks.

Saint Paul’s Cathedral // 1819

St. Paul’s Cathedral on Tremont Street in Boston is significant as the first church in the Greek Revival style to be erected in New England. Designed by two of the city’s most important Greek Revival architects, Alexander Parris and Solomon Willard, the church built in 1819 has survived largely intact as a fine example of the monumental Greek Revival aesthetic. Built five years before Quincy Market (also designed by Parris), this granite cathedral showcases the simple and bold characteristics of early Greek Revival design. The church is constructed of Quincy granite and Acquia sandstone from Virginia which are visible from the patterned facade. Interestingly, each column is composed of flat stone discs stacked atop one another with the Ionic capitals carved by Willard. Due to high cost overruns, said to be $100,000, more than double the original estimate and paired with the fact that pews sold slowly, the parish was in debt for many years. Due to this, a sculpture planned for the gable pediment, to represent St. Paul before Agrippa, was never completed. In 2013, a Nautilus art piece was designed by Donald Lipski and installed in the pediment (to the dismay of preservationists and others alike), representing a metaphor for a spiritual journey moving outward and growing.

What do you think of the art installation?