In the 1840s, as romanticism permeated all levels of American culture, and specifically as the Ecclesiological Movement brought the Gothic Revival to the American Episcopal Church, the nonliturgical denominations, led by the Congregational Church, began a thoughtful critical search for a style which would suit their own particular modes of worship. Richard Upjohn's Romanesque design for the Congregational Church of the Pilgrims in 1844-1846 was the first in a rapidly expanding group of churches in this style. As laity and clergy alike were drawn to the theories of Andrew Jackson Downing and John Ruskin, the religious press carried serious evaluations of the works of these men, together with their own theories about siting, the need for professional architects, the importance of truthfulness in design and materials, and the moral effect of architecture on a community. These writings culminated in 1853 in the Congregational Church's A Book of Plans for Churches and Parsonages. While the 19th-century critical designation of "Romanesque" for many of the buildings that resulted can be justified at times only by details, their numbers, whether of stone, brick, or wood, are impressive. They represent the result of a careful analysis of the factors which best suited the taste, doctrine, physical needs, and ethical requirements of the patrons who built them.
- Copyright 1987 The Society of Architectural Historians