Richard Kenyon, a friend and architect from Avon, Connecticut, answered the call for the 2007 exhibition with a design for Agincourt’s Catholic church–the third building on that site, it turned out. He imagined that it would have been constructed circa 1950-1951 from designs by surrogate Chicago architect Francis Barry Byrne, a real person admired by both Richard and me. Since then, several surrogates have shown up in the Agincourt Project, real historical characters who have been conscripted into playing with us in the sandbox, even though most of them are long dead. Byrne was an ideal choice for a 1950s project: he had several other projects in the region at that time (in St. Paul, MN, and Kansas City, MO), so we felt very comfortable engaging his considerable talents–posthumously.
Kenyon’s design worked with major themes of Byrne’s post-WWII work: lozenge shaped sanctuaries and simplified Modernist towers in the spirit of Medieval Ireland. His schematic plans and elevations were an eloquent testament to a time in American architecture when religious buildings were hardly representative of the best we could do. For an excellent treatment of Barry Byrne, the best on-line source is, strangely enough, a site connected with a 1920s project in Ireland: the parish of Christ the King at Turner’s Cross, Cork.
Howard Tabor got busy setting the stage for the Kenyon-Byrne collaboration by writing a four-part history of Roman Catholics in Fennimore County–and, not incidentally, exploring two recent thorny issues: pederasty and the ordination of women (which I only link here because they make some Catholics uncomfortable). So don’t get me started on separation of Church and State! I can get apoplectic.