Hello from sunny Easton! With temps nearing sixty today, it seems a far cry from the ice storm of a week ago.
Going through church photos, I found a really interesting one to share with you today. Sometimes changes occur so long ago that we never see a place with its original design. That is true of Unity Church in North Easton. Originally built in 1875, the church is a model of Gothic architecture both inside and out. The interior has been altered as the church was gifted with stained glass windows from the stained glass master John LaFarge and the addition of a magnificent wood frieze in 1895 that encloses the current altar area. Those changes were done so long ago that no one living now knows what the interior of the church looked like when Rev. Chaffin began preaching there. So, what did it look like?
Below is a rare photo of the 1875 church interior. Looking from the south entry towards the north, the original wood pulpit and details are clearly evident, just as John Ames Mitchell intended it to look. Chaffin would have preached from this altar, which appears to be white in the photo, and directly facing the main aisle between the pews. The paneling to the left features a take on a gothic arch. To the right are the ornamented pipes of the 1875 Hook and Hastings organ that has played such a central theme in worship services. At the very top center of the photo is part of one of the original stained glass windows, the Dove of Peace window which is unfortunately covered by the current frieze (if you stand at the rear of the sanctuary, you can look up and see part of the window). An old description of the church talks about the walls being beautifully stenciled, or frescoed. That feature is clearly seen in the upper part of the photo, and the quatrefoil design is repeated throughout in other details in surviving woodwork. This photo also shows a well-decorated church, probably for an Easter service. If you look carefully, you can see the original gas lights hanging from the ceiling. This is the scene envisioned by Mitchell, and enjoyed by church donor Oliver Ames II, Rev. Chaffin, and so many others for the first twenty years of the church.
Until next week, stay well,
Curator: Frank Meninno