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noticeable awakening of interest in ecclesiastical emblems; there is a consequent stimulus given to church decoration which the intense Puritanism of our forefathers discarded as an abomination. We are beginning to appreciate the value of the religious significance of these symbols, and to feel the power of the silent eloquence of their suggestive beauty. The growing force of the social and symbolic influences must be properly considered amongst the problems of church building. Where once there was simplicity in church architecture now there is complexity; and even to the ablest building committee that is compelled to solve the problem there is bewildering perplexity.
The questions that have their source in the social aspects or in the æsthetic elements of the religious life are among the variable quantities in their architectual expression. There are other factors, however, that are constant; these, too, present themselves as difficulties to a committee. The initial question of site, for instance, ought to influence the style of the exterior; the allied effect of neighborhood in architecture may enchance or destroy the artistic interest of a building. What shall be the controlling idea in the constructive design of the edifice, — shall it be a church, pure and simple ; or shall it resemble a lecture-hall, suggesting amusement and the multiform social purposes of collective secular life? In what material shall the idea find its appropriate expression, - in brick, stone, or wood? What shall be the amount and character of decorative design, and where shall it be applied ? Then there are the questions that have vital relation to the personal comfort of the worshipers — warmth, light, ventilation, sight, hearing, ease of entrance and of exit. These conditions also involve the wisest economy in the distribution of the building-fund. Is an inexperienced committee equal to the management of all the constant quantities in such an intricate problem as the building of a church ? Manifestly, the committee needs to have its own “hard, practical sense” reinforced by trained sense and disciplined feeling. In a word, it needs the assistance of a conscientious, competent, scholarly architect, a man born with “ the compass in his eye,” as Angelo said, and whose native gifts have been developed through technical education, experience, and familiarity with the masterpieces of his art. The choice of a thoroughly qualified architect is the chief means of insuring a committee against the dangers of ignorance and poor taste. It is a matter of primary and fundamental importance, and in many cases the selection ought to precede the question of site and environment.
It would be foreign to our design in the present paper to enter into the method of procedure in building a church ; but the preliminary questions that we have faintly indicated will be somewhat further developed in their appropriate place in the series. As we have remarked, our immediate province is exposition.
An admirable example of the embodiment of modern requirements in non-liturgical churches is presented in the noble edifice recently dedicated in Worcester, Mass., for the uses of the Central Church (Trinitarian Congregational), the Rev. Daniel Merriman, D. D., minister.
A thoughtful study of the building soon reveals the controlling purpose of Dr. Merriman and his associates of the building committee. Evidently, the great end aimed at was to secure the best expression of concentrated church-life in the fittest constructive and artistic design, and at an expense that reasonably could be borne under the promptings of Christian liberality and cheerful self-sacrifice. This praiseworthy object has
been most successfully accomplished in accordance with the drawings furnished by the architect and superintendent of construction, Mr. Stephen C. Earle, of Worcester.
Regarding the design of the building as a whole, it affords a fine exemplification of diversity in unity. The great purposes of public worship and of religious instruction are supplemented and reinforced by the ideas of education, culture, fellowship, hospitality, and charity. Material unity is given to these separate ideas by localizing them all under one roof, as
it were, and in such relationship that the total expression embodies the true ideal of church-life, - collective sympathy, and service in the kingdom of Christ.
The arrangement of the different parts of the building for attaining this harmonious expression is both simple and ingenious. By referring to the ground-plan in the accompanying illustrations, it will be seen that the theory of distribution is that of the connection and juxtaposition of two unequal parts, assigning to the northerly and larger section the church proper, and to the southerly part the chapel-building, comprising a group of rooms for social and educational purposes. The smaller rooms relate themselves to the chapel, and the whole group sustains an essential relation to the church.
In the accomplished purpose of the main auditorium there is no confusion. The room declares at once its churchly character. It is a sanctuary, and nothing else. Only an irrational imagination could turn it into a scientific lecture-room or a concert-hall.
The chief merit or defect in the constructive design of a building naturally reveals itself in the adoption and treatment of the groundplan. In this church the plan is excellent, both for the ecclesiastical purposes of the edifice and its susceptibility to appropriate artistic development. Some one has said that “ the typical Gothic church plan is an avenue; the typical Byzantine church plan is a central area: the Gothic is arranged along an axis ; the Byzantine is grouped around a point." This church with its wide nave is modeled upon the Byzantine type, with its characteristic central area.
A serviceable and attractive result is ingeniously secured by this theory of arrangement; it is that of a transept. Although the outline of the ground-plan is that of a parallelogram, the total impression is that of a building with both nave and transepts. The transept effect is produced in construction by the location of the pastor's room and the equal-sized organ-loft in the western corners of the church, the outer angles of the rooms being finished in columns. Symmetrically placed near the opposite eastern corners are two columns of the same design. From these four supporting columns there springs a “barrel-vaulted” ceiling of wood, with the connecting truss-work exposed to view. It is obvious that this nave and transept construction within the four simple walls of the building not only secures a most appropriate and desirable effect in church architecture, but is also greatly to the advantage of economy of space and of money.
The central area is occupied with four ranks of pews divided by five generous aisles : a central aisle, two side aisles, and two intermediate. The five aisles are connected with the main vestibule at the eastern end, each having its own doorway. Ample space is thus afforded for easy entrance and exit for the largest audience that can be gathered in the building. The pews upon the main floor are designed to accommodate seven hundred and eighty persons, and the gallery over the vestibule will seat one hundred and twenty more.
A novel and striking feature in construction, and one which serves a useful purpose upon important public occasions, is a balcony upon the southern wall of the room, which will comfortably seat fifty persons. The balcony is approached from the Sunday-school room in the chapel. building, and the view of the church interior from this spot is most attractive.