Dark wood and arched ceilings make for a dramatic performance space in a Vermont church.
Bob Stannard performs at the Rutland UU Church Coffeehouse Concert Series February 10, 2017 (© Michael O’Brien Photography).
Originally built as St. Paul’s Universalist Church, the High Victorian Gothic home of the UU Church of Rutland, Vermont, was designed by renowned architect Eldridge Boynton and dedicated in 1890. Its exterior is made of blue marble from a local quarry. The sanctuary (above) is entirely woodwork, and all of its windows are stained glass. “All the dark wood makes it cozy,” says Board President Herbert Ogden, “and the ceiling arches embracing us heighten the effect.”
In the 1970s the congregation unbolted the pews from the floor so it could offer coffeehouse concerts, a tradition that continues to this day. During concerts, a floodlight illuminates the woodwork sunburst at the pulpit end of the sanctuary where the performers are, Ogden says, adding that, “Especially if they use the higher level of the podium, the acoustics are outstanding. Acoustics are one of the things Boynton was famous for.”
A 2002–2003 addition created office and meeting room space, a lift, and accessible bathrooms. At the same time, the old basement was gutted and renovated and has housed a daycare ever since.
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Sonja L. Cohen is deputy managing editor of UU World and a lifelong Unitarian Universalist.