Houses of God: Region, Religion, and Architecture in the United States

Peter W. Williams, Author
Peter W. Williams, Author University of Illinois Press $34.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-252-01906-7
Reviewed on: 07/31/1997
Release date: 08/01/1997
Paperback - 344 pages - 978-0-252-06917-8
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A historian of religion at Miami University, Williams explores American religious history through an investigation of the architecture of its religious buildings. He organizes his book according to regions, each of which he believes has made a distinct contribution to religious architecture. Williams describes each region--New England, the Southwest, the Mid-Atlantic (in particular)--as a ""culture hearth"" in order to show the ways that particular religious traditions (e.g., Puritanism in New England) set architectural standards that later mutated into faintly recognizable forms depending on such variables as regional landscape, physical materials, ethnicity, theology and wealth. Williams's photographic examples are numerous, and they reveal styles ranging from the simplicity of small rural Southern Protestant churches to the ornateness of the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City and the kitschy Wee Kirk o' the Heather Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. Blending social, religious and cultural history, Williams's catalogue of American religious structures is a beautifully designed resource. (July)
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