Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Seventh Day Baptist Meeting House

The first Seventh Day Baptist church in North America was in Newport, Rhode Island. The congregation began meeting in 1671. Its second house of worship, erected in 1730, has been preserved by the Newport Historical Society. The design is both simple and elegant.
The new building, erected in 1730, was laid out in the "meeting house plan," typical of many colonial churches in the 17th century. The members of these churches were intent on purifying the excesses of the Church of England and the Catholic Church, and their reforming zeal was also directed at church architecture. The meeting house plan avoided any suggestion of the crucifix, the heart of the floorplan of the Catholic churches and cathedrals of Europe.

Instead, the Seventh Day Baptists built a simple, almost square building that looked like a modest house from the outside. The door was on the long side of the building and the pulpit was on the opposite wall facing the door. The room was filled with box pews. Two aisles down either side completed the symmetry of the floorplan.

Munday's building was simple in plan, but elaborate in the detail and virtuostic in the execution of the woodworking. Complex moldings, raised bolection paneling, and beautifully hand carved balusters on the staircase leading to the wineglass pulpit all attest not only to Munday's skill but to the craftsmanship of his workmen. [more]
NHS/The Seventh Day Baptist Meeting House

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