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Burlington
  

 The Early Religious Architecture of Burlington County, New Jersey, 1704-1900

      by Frank L. Greenagel

   406 pages, 273+ b&w photographs, tables, glossary, bibliography, index
   8.5 x 8.5 in., paperback, list price: $40.00
   ISBN-10:   978-0981885i-8-6
   Publication date: January 2013

The religious architecture of Burlington County has particular significance for two primary reasons—the number of excellent Quaker meetinghouses that remain and the initial appearance in this state of an architectural style, called Gothic Revival, that was to proliferate throughout the country over the next several decades. There are relatively few architectural gems in Burlington, but an excellent representation of how the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century settlers built. There are essentially three cultural landscapes in Burlington—that of the initial Quaker settlements, the hinterlands of the Pine Barrens, and the late-nineteenth century rivertowns below Florence, each with its own characteristic scale and style. All are explored, explained and illustrated in considerable depth. This is the definitive work on the subject.

Quaker style is not quite as monolithic as it seems at first glance, and the book expands upon the reasons. In spite of the early appearance of Gothic in John Notman’s Holy Innocents Chapel and Richard Upjohn’s St. Mary’s, there are few Gothic Revival churches in the county—probably because Burlington hosts few large Episcopal and Roman Catholic congregations, which were partial to that style. Methodists built simple wooden-frame meetinghouses until they gained respectability, and then the architecture of their large brick churches was largely imitative of established mainstream denominations. There are many vernacular buildings here, particularly, as one would expect, in the Pine Barrens. Rural and small-town America before the Civil War built with the materials available, usually with the rudimentary construction skills of the congregation, and from plan books and remembered memes of what a proper church should look like. There are antecedents in Pennsylvania for some of these buildings, but most draw loosely from Neoclassical, Gothic and Romanesque idioms familiar to local builders.

All 127 surviving structures erected for religious purposes in Burlington County are surveyed and placed in the context of significant liturgical, ethnic, style and constructions practices of the period.

The book includes an outline of architectural styles, a summary of the religious denominations operating in the state during the early centuries, a glossary of architectural terms, an extensive bibliography, and index. Greenagel is an established local and regional historian and photographer. He focuses on the religious architecture and the associated cultural and economic history, and lectures frequently on those subjects.

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