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The Greek Revival


The Greek Revival is probably the earliest architectural style that arrived in Agincourt in the mid-1850s. Vestiges of the style remained on the East Coast, but it had largely spent itself there and came West only as a memory of the “home” that had been left behind.

As with many styles, its heyday in Britain and on the Continent was spent before Agincourt had been founded. Architects like William and Henry William Inwood, father and son, designed St Pancras church in London, taking inspiration from Stuart and Revett’s Antiqvities of Athens, published in 1762, such as using the “Porch of the Maidens” on the Erechtheion or the “Tower of the Winds” that he adapted as the vestries and bell tower, respectively, on the church. Karl Freiderich Schinkel in Germany became expert in applying its simple dignities to the rebuilding of Berlin so the Hohenzollerns might keep pace with the Bourbons and the Habsburgs.

Here in the U.S., the Greek Revival style coincides with our Federal Period and put its stamp on such early buildings as the Second Bank of the United States and the Philadelphia Stock Exchange. But I believe its highest calling may have been the small churches of New England, New York and Pennsylvania like the one at Holland Patent, NY.

New England, western New York and Pennsylvania are peppered with carefully-proportioned buildings such as these, usually of frame construction and very often carpenter-built, i.e., without benefit of architect. A skillful master building could produce elegance of this sort and, as itinerants, they plied their trade from one community to the next, creating clusters or garlands of them across the landscape. It was buildings like this that came farther west into Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and beyond up into the 1850s. And it was this model that inspired the First Baptist church in Agincourt, a building of 1858 from the hand of the aging builder Amos Beddowes.

In addition to the Greek Revival style, First Baptist was also an opportunity for this latent Victorian (me) to explore classically-inspired proportioning systems such as were used by the ancient Greeks, particularly the “Golden Section”, one of the half dozen most remarkable numbers in all of mathematics.

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