Chatham Methodist!

Chatham Methodist

This is the Chatham United Methodist Church [website].

The congregation was established in 1786. In 1898 (ded. 1899), the moved to the church (and parsonage) below, on Center Street. (These buildings no longer exist.)

Chatham Methodist church and parsonage, date unknown. Mid 20th century, I'm guessing? That's a wild guess, though.

In 1956, the congregation moved into its present location (see top photo), and the (modern, angular, glass) sanctuary was completed in 1962.

It’s right next to the Chatham Middle School on Main Street. More than once, I’ve turned into the church’s parking lot instead of the middle school’s. &$#!^*.


Chatham United Methodist Church. (n.d.) “CUMC history.”

Cunningham, J.T. (1997). Images of America: Chatham. Arcadia Publishing: Dover, NH. ISBN 0738545619.


5 Comments to “Chatham Methodist!”

  1. Photos are not loading.

  2. A typical A-frame modernist church from a denomination that frequently erects such structures at the expense of earlier (and better designed) original denominational structures from a century earlier. I prefer the older but there’s merits to both. Methodist in general rarely erected anything worthwhile. Aesthetically, their structures should be valued alongside those of the Baptists, a moral victory–perhaps–but one that doesn’t make it difficult to erase such structures when their congregations fade. That said, American Methodists (and I’m talking about you, “Methodist Episcopal,” and “Methodist Episcopal, South,”) were more likely to treat themselves to the finer things and structures in life, as opposed to their English originators (it’s no coincidence that only the Americans have bishops; while the English and Irish Methodists have been trying to merge themselves back into the Anglican fold). So from humble origins (see the original John Street Methodist Church, downtown Manhattan), it wasn’t until the competitive Protestant building programs that followed the Second Great Awakening and the growth of fashionable Catholic structures that Methodists began to design with any ambition. And they did this well. The late-19th-century Chatham example is modest for this phase but fully appropriate to compete with other new community church buildings of the period in its contemporarily elegant Shingle Style. So it’s a shame that it is no longer with us. That said, it’s replacement is fully appropriate to compete with other new community church buildings of the late 1950s and early 1960s period in its contemporary elegant Modernist A-frame style. This style works best for churches in suburban sites where its prow-like presence was meant to preside over chrome-hilted, finned-auto-filled asphalt expanses. Most specifically, the large lit gables, gridded with glazing bars, are meant to open the sanctuary with a “fourth wall” of God’s creation: beautiful calming green foliage (potted plants wouldn’t be out of place within juxtaposed against the unstructural stretcher-coursed brick masonry). The design works two ways: God’s creations, in all forms, are invited within the sanctuary and the congregation itself isn’t imprisoned but rather on display to without, to the broader non-participating community. Missionary evangelism budgeted into the building program, in the same way that shop-front display windows augment an advertising budget. Plus, at night, imagine the beacon-like warm orange-yellow light picking out the trees. Pick a religious metaphor/other imagery and run with it: lighthouse? Holman Hunt’s Light of the World? Yeah. One problem: is this design exclusive to Methodist? No. It’s more ecumenical, also appropriate to the second half of the 20th century. But is it exclusive to ecumenical Christianity? No. Plenty of suburban synagogues employed this design too, but that’s good because it reflects American equality. But is it exclusively sacred? No. This A-frame could be a bank, auditorium, clubhouse, motel office, Waffle House, ski chalet, or private residence. It was designed to be non-site-or-purpose specific, largely practical roadside fluff, which in itself is very American. So is this good? (To pull this back into the practical: One objective reason to say no would be the high heating bill for the double-height space with large heat-losing windows carried to the roof.)

  3. I’m a tall drink of water, I gotta stretch my shit out. You see my glass and you say, hey, you’re effing half empty. But I’m a tall drink of water, you got me? Maybeyoushouldbeappreciatingmemoreforspacesandthatshitandlackofcusswudsandhalfdescentspelling.

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