Tuesday, January 23, 2018

From Towers to Turrets to Projecting Bays: The Democratization of High Style House Design

Syracuse, NY. Loomis House ca. 1890. 623 Euclid Ave. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2012
Syracuse, NY. Levi Chapman House. 321 Westcott Street, in process of "vinylization". Photo: Samuel Gruber 2012
From Towers to Turrets to Projecting Bays: The Democratization of High Style House Design
by Samuel D. Gruber

Its been frequently documented that high-style innovations and affectations in art and architecture - but also in cuisine, fashion and etiquette - trickle from the top down, often being simplified and standardized, so that much of what we commonly mistake for vernacular design is actually highly inflected interpretation and adaptation of class trappings. Of course, it works the other way too, and often the lowest street culture can influence or even be adopted as a trend by the arbiters of high-style taste. Grafitti Art, the Blues, Rock and Roll, and Hip-Hop are examples. But so are rustic masonry and exposed timber construction in architecture and design.

We can certainly see the trickle-down side of this at work in the architecture, design and construction of houses in the Greater Westcott Neighborhood, which in its entirety provides a primer on late 19th-century and especially early-20th century Middle Class residential aspirations and achievement. A look at the continuing diminution of corner towers - so prevalent in the Queen Anne style in the last decades of the 19th-century - is a good case in point.

Syracuse, NY. Babcock-Shattuck House. Photo: PACNY 2014
In 2013 I posted about Queen Anne style houses in the Westcott Neighborhood. Just before 1900, there were still some big houses of wealthy owners that sported impressive attached corner towers. The recently-restored Babcock-Shattuck House at 2000 East Genesee Street has a round corner tower, while the Loomis House at 623 Euclid Ave (corner of Lancaster Ave), and the Levi Chapman House at 321 Westcott Street, have large attached polygonal towers. 

The Loomis House is still relatively good condition, but the Chapman House has unfortunately been recently covered with vinyl siding. Both of these houses have their towers knit into the main building fabric with the tower roofs cut into the slope of the main roof much as a dormer would be. Though thoroughly integrated, the towers still stand as strong elements of the overall composition and they are not obscured by porches. They give these houses the castle look of a baronial homestead.

After 1900 we traces of similar tower on many houses, but these get lower and flatter, and are sometimes obscured by porches. The houses at 108 Avondale and 708 and 714 South Beech Street are smaller than the Loomis and Chapman houses, but continue the form. The projecting corner tower still has its own polygonal roof.


Syracuse, NY. 108 Avondale. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2015
Syracuse, NY. 708 South Beech St. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2013
Syracuse, NY. 714 South Beech St. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2013
In the next shift, however. the tower has entirely morphed into a projecting polygonal bay surmounted it own prominent gable. It no longer is the corner of the house, but rather projects directly from the facade, filling about half the house width. Like the towers, the projecting bays still help to draw more light into the house by having windows facing three directions. Typical examples of this form are at 710 and 729 South Beech Street.

Syracuse, NY. 710 South Beech St. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2012


Syracuse, NY. 729 South Beech St. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2012
This form is related to another common type popular in the area from at least the early 1890s. This is a another simple variation on the Queen type, but stripped down and easy to build on a small lot. The type is define by L- or T-shaped roof, with a cross gable, and projecting front polygonal bay. The narrow bay is surmounted by a prominent gable, and this is set against and almost within a larger gable that spans the entire house width. There are several examples on South Beech,  Dell, and nearby streets, though more often the projecting bay is rectangular and not polygonal.


Syracuse, NY. 711 South Beech St. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2012
A simplification of this type does away with the extra smaller gable, and instead extends the primary gable over the bay, creating a little covered recess over the front door. An example of the this can be seen at 116 Clarke Street at the corner of Strong Ave.


Syracuse, NY. 116 Clarke St. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2012
A slightly more complex profile is created at 1007 Euclid Ave., just off Strong Ave. In this two-family "flats" type of house, the projecting bay is under the main gable, but a second gable is created over a second story porch that spans half the width of the house. The lower porch presses up against and partially obscures the projecting bay - all that is left of old corner tower.

It is only a small step  from this to a form very common in the 1920s and visible in my own house at on Clarke Street. Here the projecting bay is only built on the second story. Down below the wall is flat and totally taken over by the porch. The upper story bay does, however, get its own gable. This does provide the simple frame house a lively profile that harks back two generations to the Queen Anne style.   

Syracuse, NY 1007 Euclid Ave. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2011
Syracuse, Ny 123 Clarke Street. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2016

That second story bay is very functional. It pulls in sunlight for much of  the day since it has windows facing east, south and west. Is is one of Luna's favorite spots in the house (see photo below).
 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

More 19th-Century Italianate Houses in the Greater Westcott Neighborhood

Syracuse, NY. 1326 Madison St. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2016
19th-Century Italianate Houses in the Greater Westcott Neighborhood
by Samuel D. Gruber

Three years ago I wrote a post about Italianate houses on the Eastside. As I noted then, there is only a small number since the area was sparsely inhabited during the third quarter of the 19th century when the style was most prevalent. Those Italianate houses that do stand were mostly farm houses along the major routes in the district, especially East Genesee Street and South Beech Street.

I am now researching a large part of the Eastside for the Greater Westcott National Register Historic Site nomination and I've some across a few more examples of the style - though I still know nothing about the history of these houses. Most surprising is the group of Italianate houses in the 1300 and 1400 blocks of Madison Street, which is one of the oldest settled stretches in the area. The 1892 map of the city shows that Madison, Cherry, Bassett, and nearby streets were already fully developed with houses at the time. In 2016 I wrote about the demolition of two Italianate houses on the 1000 block of Madison Street.

The most impressive of these houses is a handsome and beautifully maintained brick structure at 1326 Madison Street. Especially attractive is the saw-tooth detailing on the belt course and the raised brick patterns on the window arches.

Syracuse, NY. 1326 Madison St. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2016
There are also two large and attractive wood frame Italianate houses in the 1400 block of Madison Street. One of these, #1400-1402 on the corner of Cherry Street is now for sale. This sprawling structure with a good north view has long been a favorite of mine and now that it is for sale perhaps I'll get a look inside. It is listed as belonging to C. L. Hovey on the 1892 map of the area. Though the house has been re-sided and altered in other ways, its 19th-century form remains true. 

Both houses on the 1400 block have been added to, in the typical fashion of Italianate houses where extensions are added to the main cubic block. Sometimes these may be contemporary with the main structure and may have contained kitchen, storage and other utilitarian functions. It seems that the original blocks of both these house were not exact cubes, but were more T-shape in plan, allowing rear side rooms to get some north light.

these houses probably date from the 1870s or early 1880s.

Syracuse, NY. 1400-02 Madison St.at the corner of Cherry St.  Listed as belonging C. V. Hovey in 1892. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2016
Syracuse, NY. 1410-12 Madison St. Listed as belonging to M .M. Park in 1892. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2016
There are also a similarly-dated house on Bassett Street, an irregular street into which Madison ends, and which pushes up the steep hill from the former Erie Canal until it turns and intersects with South Beech Street. The Italianate house at number 133 has a wrap-around porch which appears to be original.

Syracuse, NY. 133 Bassett St. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2016
In the previous post, I mentioned one small Italianate house at 726 South Beech Street. There is another at #615. This is a simple two-story wood frame block with a ground floor projecting polygonal bay (probably the dining room). There is a later Colonial style (ca. 1900?) full-width ground floor front porch with an off center entrance beneath a small pediment. This once would have been decorated with a relief decoration. The house is now covered with vinyl siding, but because of its prominent siting it still holds its own.


Syracuse, NY. 615 South Beech St. Photo: Samuel Gruber 2011

Monday, January 15, 2018

Atonement Lutheran Church, a Modern Landmark on Syracuse's Southwest Side

Syracuse, NY. Lutheran Church of Atonement. Edgarton & Edgarton, archs (1962). Photo: Samuel Gruber 2014.
Syracuse, NY. Lutheran Church of Atonement. Edgarton & Edgarton, archs (1962). Photo: Samuel Gruber 2014

Syracuse, NY. Lutheran Church of Atonement. Edgarton & Edgarton, archs (1962). Photo: Samuel Gruber 2016
Atonement Lutheran Church, a Modern Landmark on Syracuse's Southwest Side
by Samuel D. Gruber

I began this post over a year ago after attending an excellent concert by the Onondaga Civic Orchestra at the Atonement Lutheran Church. It was the first time I'd been in the building and I was impressed by the aura and warmth of the spacious modern interior. I've previously written about several mid-century modern religious buildings in the region, such as Saint Daniel's Church in Lyncourt. Atonement Lutheran Church is certainly a modern icon on the Southwest side, one of several churches built in the decades after World War II to serve the expanding population and to take advantage of new building technologies and to cater to new modern aesthetic tastes.

This church was opened in 1962 and designed by the local architecture and engineering firm of Edgarton & Edgarton with input from the Dept. of Church Architects United Lutheran Church in America, and constructed by R. A. Culotti Co. Edgarton and Edgarton are best know locally for the design of the War Memorial of 1952. In 1959 they designed the shopping center (East Syracuse Shopper) at James and West Manlius Streets. Very little is known of the firm. L. Dexter Edgarton was a graduate of Syracuse University and in the 1950s the firm has an office in the Marine Midland Building downtown (if readers know more about the firm please let me know).

The Atonement church congregation moved from 1926 Midland Avenue where they had occupied since 1927 a Gothic Revival style parish house and community center designed by Frederick R. Lear. The planned sanctuary had never been built due to the Depression and World War II.

Syracuse, NY. Former English Lutheran Church of Atonement, Midland Ave. Parish hall and community house, Frederick Lear, arch (1928). Photo: Samuel Gruber 2012
Syracuse, NY. Lutheran Church of Atonement. Edgarton & Edgarton, archs (1962). Photo: Samuel Gruber 2014
The old and new buildings could not be more different. The 1962 structure is a large shed-like building constructed of concrete block and brick on the outside and redwood inside.  Some of the concrete block is ornamental, used to create decorative screens outside the tall side windows.  The most prominent feature is a tower at the entrance surmounted by a large aluminum cross. Inside there are several innovations.

Syracuse, NY. Lutheran Church of Atonement. Edgarton & Edgarton, archs (1962). Photo: Samuel Gruber 2014
The white Georgian marble table-style altar is free standing, said at the time to be the first free-standing altar in the region. This surrounded by a large communion rail which can accommodate more than 40 people. There is little ornament inside the sanctuary, but a large plain white poplar cross is suspended from the ceiling in front of the plain brick eastern wall. The church was dedicated by Rev. Dr. John M. Joslyn, who had already been serving as pastor for five years when the 1928 building was dedicated.

 Architects Edgarton & Edgarton were already known for their engineering of the impressive 160-foot vault of the War Memorial. Though the Atonement Church is much smaller, they still attained a sense of vast space with the high wood ceiling raised on wood supports that also buttress the brick walls.
 
Syracuse, NY. Lutheran Church of Atonement. Edgarton & Edgarton, archs (1962). Photo: Samuel Gruber 2016
Syracuse, NY. Lutheran Church of Atonement. Edgarton & Edgarton, archs (1962). Photo: Samuel Gruber 2016
 History

The congregation was founded in a church dedicated in 1906 at the southeast corner of Brighton Ave. and Cannon Street, but by the spring of 1926 “the church building was no longer adequate to meet the needs of the enlarged Sunday School and Congregation, and the congregation was authorized by the Board of American Missions of the United Lutheran Church to dispose of the property as soon as possible and to lay plans for the erection of a new Church and Parish House.” In May 1927 the property on West Brighton was sold to the city of Syracuse to be used as a precinct station. On June 19, 1927 ground was broken for the erection of the Parish House and Community Center at the corner of Midland and Brighton Avenues. The cornerstone was laid November 13, 1927 and the building was dedicated in September 1928.






Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Moravian Tile Fireplace Revealed in the W. W. Ward-Designed Hunziger House

Syracuse, NY. The Julius Hunziger House on Robineau Road. Ward Wellington Ward, architect, 1926. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017.
Syracuse, NY. The Julius Hunziger House on Robineau Road. Ward Wellington Ward, architect, 1926. Replacement fireplace. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017.
Syracuse, NY. The Julius Hunziger House on Robineau Road. Ward Wellington Ward, architect, 1926. Original living room fireplace revealed. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017.
Syracuse, NY. The Julius Hunziger House on Robineau Road. Hunziger family around fireplace. Photo: courtesy of Cleota Reed
Moravian Tile Fireplace Revealed in the W. W.  Ward-Designed Hunziger House
by Samuel D. Gruber

Earlier this month I joined some members of the Arts & Crafts Society of Central New York and Strathmore neighbors at the "new" home of Michael Matthews and Jane Crow. The house was really built in 1926 for the real estate salesman Julius Hunziger and his family, who lived there until 1932. Designed by noted local Arts & Crafts architect Ward Wellington Ward, it was the last of his several houses built in the neighborhood from the time the Strathmore subdivision opened in 1919. It was also one of Ward's very last projects overall, as he died in 1926, the year the house was completed.

Michael and Jane recently purchased the house and are now fixing it up before moving in. Most of the original features are intact. The overall style and detailing mixes elements of the then-popular Colonial Revival style, as can be seen in the stairway and in many of the moldings, but with Ward's English-inspired Arts and Crafts approach to design in the arrangement of the rooms, the window, and the built-in cabinets - all of which were design components he had perfected before World War I.

The new owners were perplexed, however, by the fireplace. The shiny slabs of  black marble surrounding the fireplace were clearly later additions, and it was known that the mantle, too, was a replacement, though apparently modeled on the original. In discussions with Arts and Crafts Society members over lunch at the Annual meeting which Jane and Michael attended, it was unanimously agreed that the original fireplace would have had Moravian tile decoration, as did all Ward's fireplaces. We wondered if the original was intact  beneath the black marble.

According to Cleota Reed, expert on both Ward and Henry Mercer and the Moravian Pottery and Tiles Works of Doylestown, PA, thousands of fireplaces across the country were made using Mercer (or Moravian) tiles. No architect. however, built more fireplaces with more than Ward Wellington Ward. There were hundreds of tile types and thousands of combinations.

Michael was curious, and so moved the wooden mantelpiece, and poked around the fireplace, and with little effort was able to pry off one of the marble slabs. Behold! The original fireplace decoration was there and still in good condition. So Michael and Jane invited people over to witness the unveiling, and with eyes wide we watched as two more panels fell away to reveal a complete series of twelve tile zodiac designs spaced on the sides and above the fireplace. In the center was a tile of a sailing ship, a popular emblem of the Arts and Crafts Movement and a favorite of Ward Wellington Ward.


Syracuse, NY. The Julius Hunziger House on Robineau Road. Ward Wellington Ward, architect, 1926. Original fireplace tiles. Sailing ship. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017
These Zodiac tiles are simple designs and follow an age-old tradition. Representing the Zodiac goes back to the Babylonian's but it was especially a popular motif in the Middle Ages (often connected with images of the labors of the months) denoting the passage of the year in relation to the celestial calendar. For Ward and the Hunzigers, however, there was probably no deep meaning in the selection, and the tiles were simply used as familiar decorative series. Still, one can imagine the little Hunziger children attracted to the colorful zodiac motifs of animals and figures and the sailing ship, too. 

There were probably plain or a pattern of colored tiles on the floor in front of the fireplace, too, but these must have been dug out and removed to lay the black slab there now, flush with the floor.

Syracuse, NY. Julius Hunziger House on Robineau Road. Ward Wellington Ward, architect, 1926. Original fireplace tiles. Aquarius. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017
Syracuse, NY. Julius Hunziger House on Robineau Road. Ward Wellington Ward, architect, 1926. Original fireplace tiles. Pisces. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017
Syracuse, NY. Julius Hunziger House on Robineau Road. Ward Wellington Ward, architect, 1926. Original fireplace tiles. Ares. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017


Syracuse, NY. Julius Hunziger House on Robineau Road. Ward Wellington Ward, architect, 1926. Original fireplace tiles. Taurus. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017
Syracuse, NY. Julius Hunziger House on Robineau Road. Ward Wellington Ward, architect, 1926. Original fireplace tiles. Gemini. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017
Syracuse, NY. Julius Hunziger House on Robineau Road. Ward Wellington Ward, architect, 1926. Original fireplace tiles. Cancer. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017
Syracuse, NY. Julius Hunziger House on Robineau Road. Ward Wellington Ward, architect, 1926. Original fireplace tiles. Leo. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017
Syracuse, NY. Julius Hunziger House on Robineau Road. Ward Wellington Ward, architect, 1926. Original fireplace tiles. Virgo. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017

Syracuse, NY.  Julius Hunziger House on Robineau Road. Ward Wellington Ward, architect, 1926. Original fireplace tiles. Libra. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017
Syracuse, NY. Julius Hunziger House on Robineau Road. Ward Wellington Ward, architect, 1926. Original fireplace tiles. Scorpio. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017
Syracuse, NY. Julius Hunziger House on Robineau Road. Ward Wellington Ward, architect, 1926. Original fireplace tiles. Sagittarius. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017
Syracuse, NY. Julius Hunziger House on Robineau Road. Ward Wellington Ward, architect, 1926. Original fireplace tiles. Capricorn. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017
Arts & Crafts Society board member Bill Bowen focuses in on the newly revealed tiles. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017
Syracuse, NY. Julius Hunziger House on Robineau Road. Ward Wellington Ward, architect, 1926. Original fireplace tiles. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017
The rest of the house looks great, too. For Ward Wellington Ward enthusiasts the most notable details are the front windows set opposite the fireplace. These are clear windows but set in lead tracery with decorative and heraldic devices.

Syracuse, NY. Julius Hunziger House. Ward Wellington Ward, architect, 1926. Living room windows looking out onto Robineau Road.. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017
Syracuse, NY. Julius Hunziger House. Ward Wellington Ward, architect, 1926. Stairway Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017
Syracuse, NY. Julius Hunziger House. Ward Wellington Ward, architect, 1926. Door between foyer and front stair hall. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2017

Thank you Jane and Michael for sharing your discovery and your new home with the community!  May you enjoy it for many years to come.


To learn more about Henry Mercer and the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works the must read book is Cleota Reed, Henry Chapman Mercer and the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works (Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1987).

For more on Ward Wellington Ward search this blog. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Eastwood Church Includes Arts & Crafts Details Outside with Sumptuous Stained Glass Inside

Syracuse, NY. James Street United Methodist Church. W. R. Brown, arch. 1916. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2014.
Syracuse, NY. James Street United Methodist Church. W. R. Brown, arch. 1916. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2014.
Syracuse, NY. James Street United Methodist Church, windows after 1919. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2014.

Syracuse, NY. James Street United Methodist Church. Redesigned interior. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2014.
James Street Methodist Church Includes Arts & Crafts Details Outside with Sumptuous Stained Glass Inside 
by Samuel D. Gruber 

I was recently elected president of the Arts & Crafts Society of Central New York, so in the past few weeks I've cast my eyes about the region thinking of the effect of the Movement in the shaping of art and architecture in Central New York in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  I've mostly thought of the people and places where the most complete and intentional expression of the aesthetics and philosophy of the movement are apparent, such as in the furniture and Craftsman Houses of Gustav Stickley and his associates, for or in the architecture of Ward Wellington Ward or in the exceptional houses by Catherine Budd and William Henry Peters, built on Robineau Road alongside those by Ward.

But there are many less well-known and documented instances in Central New York design where Art & Crafts elements break through, mostly either simplifying some of the (often brilliant) excesses of the architecture of the Gilded Age, or after 1900 as an alternate to rules and regularity of Renaissance and Roman revival design. These include a small number of public buildings, including some churches and schools.

A few years ago my colleague Bruce Harvey and I were engaged by the City of Syracuse to carry out an religious property survey in the city to access the historical and design qualities of more than 100 present and former churches, synagogues, and religious school buildings. This survey showed that while there are still extant a large number of 19th-century churches built in historicist styles and a large number of well and often creatively-designed modern churches of the post-World War II period, there were few religious structures that showed appreciation by the architect or the commissioning congregation of Arts & Crafts design.

We can only speculate on the reasons for the small number of Arts and Crafts churches. Part of it was timing, the style seemed most popular in the years preceding World War I, and then afterwards tastes changed. In Syracuse two churches include Arts and Crafts elements are from this period.. These former First English Lutheran Church at 501 James Street from 1910-11,  which I have already written about, and the James Street Methodist Church of 1916, described below, located in Eastwood. In 2016, a century after the church design was first published, the James Street Methodist church was sold. The Austin organ of was sold  beforehand and removed.  I have not been in the church since the sale to see what changes have been made.


Syracuse, NY. First English Lutheran Church. Archimedes Russell and Melvin King, architects, 1911. Bell tower. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016.
Syracuse, NY. James Street United Methodist Church, exterior detail. W. R. Brown, arch. 1916. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2014.
Also, much of the Arts & Crafts aesthetic is about individual or family living, and this is best applied in more intimate settings. That is why, in part, there are so many Craftsman houses but one doesn't see many (or any?) Craftsman churches. Already in the late 19th-century, however, there was a tradition of open wood roof construction in many churches, and this presages in some ways the reverence for traditional craftsmanship of the Arts & Crafts Movement. In England there is a direct line between Pugin and the Gothic Revival and William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement.

In American church architecture, the Gothic Revival remained strong, and a particular brand of English country Gothic was popular through the 1920s among the same social class and mainstream Protestant groups who mostly supported Arts and Crafts design at home. This English Gothic could also be built on an intimate scale. We have examples in the city such as Saint Stephen's Lutheran Church on the Northside (1929), Saint Alban's Episcopal Church on the Eastside (1929 ff), and many more. These churches could include some Arts & Crafts detail work, especially in wood, metal work, and stained glass. In England, Arts and Crafts masters such as Henry Wilson had a close relationship with the Anglican Church and provided many important church furnishings.

Syracuse University architecture professor Frederick Roy Lear excelled in Gothic design and his work is apparent in the former English Lutheran Church of Atonement (1927) and the former Lafayette Avenue Methodist Church (1928).

Syracuse, NY. James Street United Methodist Church. Drawing of church in 1916 before construction.
Syracuse, NY. James Street United Methodist Church. Program from 1920s.
Architecture 

Begun in 1919, the James Street United Methodist Church occupies a site on the north side of James Street in the former Village of Eastwood, at Rigi Avenue. The design reflects a Renaissance style filtered through an Arts & Crafts aesthetic. The building is on a lot donated by a parishioner J. C Surbeck, a “pioneer of Eastwood.” The church was built with a central raised bell tower and open lantern surmounting the center of the sanctuary roof. This raised element is now gone, already removed by the 1960s. The architect was W. R. Brown of Brown, Blauvelt Co, from Rochelle Park, N.J.[1]

The church has an unusual plan that contributes to a complex roof structure. The focus of the sanctuary is a raised area for the communion table set in an apse-like projection from the south east corner of the building. Seating in the sanctuary, which was originally in curved benches, faces southeast. A low barrel vaults covers most of the sanctuary space.




Syracuse, NY. James Street United Methodist Church. cornerstone W. R. Brown, arch. 1919. There was original an entrance through this corner pavilion. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2014
Syracuse, NY. James Street United Methodist Church. W. R. Brown, arch. 1916. There was original an entrance through this corner pavilion. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2014
The building originally had three street entrances. One was a fairly low double door entrance on the chamfered building corner that was surmounted by a projecting shed roof supported by decorative brackets, above which were two round-headed lancet windows filled with stained glass. This entrance probably led to the ample basement (where services were held when the building was first under construction) and also into the sanctuary via doorways to the sides of the raised communion area. Until 2016, an organ occupied this space. The doorway and windows were filled in 1948 when the building underwent structural renovations, and also an interior remodeling. Today, the foundation level stonework runs continuously across this part of the building.

Syracuse, NY. James Street United Methodist Church. W. R. Brown, arch. 1916. The interior was remodeled in in 1948 and later. An Austin organ was installed behind this screen. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2014
Other entrances to the church are up steps on James Street and Rigi Avenue.On James Street, steps lead to projecting gable-roof porch to the left of the south sanctuary arm and a large arched stained window, filled with stained glass. On Rigi Ave. there is side entrance, projecting out to the sidewalk from the body of the church, up steps to a door in a small lean-to-roofed wing. The entrance doors on both sides maintain their original decorative hardware.


A functional addition to the church was added to the north end in the post-World War II era. Though designed by noted modernist Gordon Schopfer, it does not display unusual or exceptionally technically innovation and architectural expressive elements, as do many other Schopfer commissions.

Stained Glass

The original stained glass is in all the windows. Geometric patterns are used for windows to non-liturgical spaces. The three large arched windows the light the sanctuary are more ornate. The two memorial windows facing James and Rigi Ave. include large figurative religious scenes. The window facing  Rigi Ave. represents Jesus as a shepherd of his flock. The window facing on to James Street represents the Three Marys at the Tomb with the Angel announcing Christs resurrection. It is not known what studio designed and manufactured the windows.
 
Syracuse, NY. James Street United Methodist Church, windows after 1919. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2014.
Syracuse, NY. James Street United Methodist Church, windows after 1919. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2014.
Syracuse, NY. James Street United Methodist Church, windows after 1919. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2014.
Syracuse, NY. James Street United Methodist Church, windows after 1919. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2014.

History

The origins of the church are in a Revival held in January 1912 in 67 persons professed conversion, leading to the desire for a church in Eastwood. A large basement was designed and built allowing a space forth the new congregation led by Rev. Richard Lowry. The congregation first met in a barber shop, then in the basement of the church as it was under construction. Rev. Lowry’s sudden death, however, in 1913 led to the arrival of Rev. Dr. William H. Powers, who oversaw the erection of the church. Powers subsequently became Dean of Hendricks Chapel at Syracuse University. 

The church was dedicated on June 20, 1920 by Bishop Burt, head of the Methodist conference, assisted by Rev. William H. Powers, then pastor. It was established as a “unity church” but the Methodist ritual was followed throughout all services. Among the denominations worshiping “in perfect harmony” were besides the Methodist Episcopal, “Episcopalians, Baptists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Roman Catholics, Weslyan and Free Methodists, Evangelicals, Christian Scientists and New Thoughters.” In 1923 there were reported to be 500 members of the church from “all parts of Eastwood and the outskirts of Syracuse.”In 1937 The Syracuse Journal reported membership over 400 and a constituency of about 1,000.

Syracuse, NY. James Street United Methodist Church, windows after 1919. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2014.

Syracuse, NY. James Street United Methodist Church, windows after 1919. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2014.

Syracuse, NY. James Street United Methodist Church, windows after 1919. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2014.

Sources

“James Street Methodist Episcopal Church, Eastwood, New York,” East Syracuse (Nov 24, 1916) 

“James Street Methodist Episcopal Church Owes its Origin to Sunday School Held in 1870,” Syracuse Journal (June 19, 1937) [photocopy] 

Edwards, Finette A. “Thirteen Denominations Here,” (Sept. 29, 1923) “My Church” Past, Present, Future, A Commemorative Book About James Street Methodist Church Dedicated to the Observances of its 30th Year of Christian Stewardship and Service 1919-1949

1. American Contractor (July 7, 1917)East Syracuse, NY.  Church 30,000 65 x 95  Archt. & Engr. W. R. Brown, care Brown, Blauvelt Co., Inc, Rochelle Park, New Jersey. Owner James Street M. E. Church, George O. Merwin, chm. bldg.com., 324 West Fayette, East Syracuse, bids to abt. Sept 1.”