December 16: Ralph Adams Cram, Richard Upjohn, and John LaFarge, Architects, 1942, 1878, Artist, 1910
December 16, 2010 12 Comments
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About this commemoration
Ralph Adams Cram and Richard Upjohn were major architects whose influence on the design and decoration of Episcopal churches in the late 19th and early 20th centuries is without equal.
Cram was born on this day in 1863 in New Hampshire. After an apprenticeship in Boston, Cram established his own firmin1890 that specialized in designing churches. Heavily influenced by Anglo-Catholic principles, Cram was a leading proponent for an“American gothic revival”—buildings that were reminiscent of the ritual and structural dominance of the medieval period. Because ofhis many commissions for chapels and other buildings on college and university campuses, Cram is also remembered as the originator of the “collegiate gothic” style. Among his works is the great gothic nave of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City.
Richard Upjohn was born in England in 1802 where he trained as a cabinetmaker. He immigrated to the United States in 1829 and eventually took up residence in Boston where he worked as a draftsman, art teacher, and eventually an architect. His first major commission was for a gothic-style building for St. John’s Episcopal Church in Bangor, Maine, a building that was later destroyed by fire. He was commissioned in 1839 to design and supervise the construction of anew building for the Parish of Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York City. It was completed in 1846 and continues as Upjohn’s most well known accomplishment. Upjohn is also remembered for his sketchbooks of small wood-frame designs for churches in rural towns and villages. These designs were widely copied and adapted. As a result, Upjohn was among the early progenitors of “carpenter gothic.”
John Lafarge was born in 1835 in New York City and was a devout Roman Catholic. As an artist, LaFarge worked in a variety of media but is most often remembered for the murals that decorate Trinity Church, Boston, and the Church of the Ascension, New York City, among others. He also made significant contributions to ecclesiastical decoration in stained glass.
I Gracious God, we offer thanks for the vision of Ralph Adams Cram, John LaFarge and Richard Upjohn, whose harmonious revival of the Gothic enriched our churches with a sacramental understanding of reality in the face of secular materialism; and we pray that we may honor thy gifts of the beauty of holiness given through them, for the glory of Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
II Gracious God, we thank you for the vision of Ralph Adams Cram, John LaFarge and Richard Upjohn, whose harmonious revival of the Gothic enriched our churches with a sacramental understanding of reality in the face of secular materialism; and we pray that we may honor your gifts of the beauty of holiness given through them, for the glory of Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
2 Chronicles 6:12–20
Preface for the Dedication of a Church
Text from Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.
We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?
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