- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (October 7, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0471145025
- ISBN-13: 978-0471145028
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.9 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,298,332 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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America's Religious Architecture: Sacred Places for Every Community 1st Edition
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The Amazon Book Review
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Does America have its equivalent of Notre Dame or Chartres? In a way, it boasts just the opposite--no monuments to monolithic splendor, but instead has humbler tributes to cultural diversity. This volume, a kind of photo-history, reveals Marilyn J. Chiat's passionate advocacy for the preservation of our nation's religious architecture. Places of worship are for her "... the most visible and defining features of our rural and urban landscapes. From the Lower East Side of New York, where the decaying remains of synagogues still speak of the Jewish immigrants who once filled the tenements and labored in sweatshops, to California's coast, where Spanish missions still serve as reminders of the earliest Europeans to settle here, places of worship bear witness to our nation's diverse heritage." In large part, this volume is a celebration of America's immigrant past.
The churches, synagogues, and meeting halls featured in America's Religious Architecture meet specific criteria--all are listed on the National Register of Historic Places; all represent an ethnic culture; all played a vital role in their communities; all have architectural merit. Chiat takes the reader on a tour through nine regions in the U.S., pointing out the creative combining of ethnic traditions with local building styles and materials.
The entry on Maine, for example, reveals a diversity of that region that may surprise the reader. A province of Massachusetts until 1820, the Congregationalists were the bedrock, to be penetrated in the 1770s by the hardy German Lutherans (Maine's rough weather and terrain and its territorial battles discouraged settlement). Its two Anglican parishes would later blossom into an elaborately architected Episcopaleanism, and it would see the migration of Acadian French Roman Catholics from Nova Scotia. This is a good representation of the book's format--a discussion of the significant ethnic arrivals, their faiths, and the subsequent buildings. There's a photograph (black and white) on every page, with the address of each building and the name of the architect and builder.
In such a compilation, there are bound to be omissions which will jolt any reader who has his or her own favorite historic haunt. For example, there is no mention of the Moravians who settled Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in the 1700s and no images of their elegant, strikingly simple form. That religious community left behind a wondrous core of civic and religious buildings still vital to the community's spiritual and educational life. But America's Religious Architecture is an otherwise informative and well-organized tour, replete with fascinating tidbits such as this comment on the Rodef Shalom Temple in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: "The Moorish style began appealing to Jewish congregations in the latter half of the nineteenth century, a time when Jews were seeking an architectural style that would not be confused with Christian church architecture." A noble reference work, belonging somewhere between your crafts shelf and your coffee table. --Hollis Giammatteo
From the Publisher
From the Moorish synagogue in small Texas town, to the New England meetinghouse nestled in the palm trees of Hawaii, this comprehensive historical survey of America's religious architecture celebrates the country's ethnic and spiritual diversity through the magnificent breadth of these community landmarks. The first comprehensive architectural and cultural history of its kind, the book features 500 places of worship nationwide, many listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Includes over 300 black-and-white photographs and foreword by Bill Moyers, creator of the PBS "Genesis" series.
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I bought the book based on a flyer from Preservation Press implying it was an architectural reference, and returned it to Amazon.com beacuse it is unusable as such.
My apologies to Amazon.com for the inconvenience.