Square Unitarian Church
H. H. Richardson, 1869-1873
The Brattle fuses Romanesque design and primitive sculpture
with an Italian style campanile. The body of the church is of a conglomerate
rock, Roxbury puddingstone, and is highlighted with alternating colors of
sandstone, and architectural carving by John Evans.
prominent 176 foot tower, is adorned with a frieze by Fredrick Auguste
Bartholdi, who would later sculpt the Statue of Liberty.
This was Richardson's third church, and his first major Boston commission.
While studying in Paris, Richardson journeyed through England in 1859, 1862
and 1865. While this is a Norman-styled church, Richardson's French taught
uses of ratios is evident. Consider the smallest part of the church on the
right, add one half of its visual height, and that is the height of the
next element. Add one half again, and its the height of the campanile.
In the 1860's the North End's Brattle Square Unitarian Church was loosing
members due to changes in the city. They commissioned the building of this
new church in the newly established Back
Bay in hopes of reversing their fortunes. By 1876 the Brattle Square
Unitarian congregation had not gained the membership they hoped for in the
Back Bay, and became insolvent.
If the First
Baptist Church, the building's long term resident, had not relocated
to Commonwealth Avenue in 1881, the vacant church would almost certainly
have been torn down in favor of residential housing. Instead it still serves
its original purposes, and is home to a Baptist Congegation tracing its
roots in Boston back to 1665.