First and Second Church, Boston
First and Second Church

Date:1867, 1971

Architects: William Robert Ware and Henry Van Brunt; Paul Rudolph

Ware and Van Brunt designed the original structure on the corner of Marlborough and Berkeley Streets in Boston's Back Bay in the manner of an old English country church with a broach spire—a tapering octagonal spike on a square base. Masons in the middle ages found that fitting an octagonal spire on top of a square tower required tapering triangles known as broaches to fill in the corners. English examples include St. Mary's church in Frampton (Dorset), St. Andrews (Leasingham, Lincolnshire) and All Saints in Kings Cliffe (Northamptonshire). The Ware/Van Brunt version has some of the accouterments of 19th century Gothic revival, including zebra striped pointed arches and lucarnes—small windows built into roofs and spires. The building is much more restrained and monochromatic than nearby examples like New Old South Church.

In 1968, a fire destroyed much of the church, leaving behind only the spire, base and one wall. Rudolph preserved the remains in his rebuild, except for the peak of the end wall, which seems to have been unceremoniously sawed off. The Rudolph addition is scarcely visible from the Berkeley Street side of the church, so I decided to leave it out of the cartoon entirely. Anyway, the remains of the original church are much more haunting and memorable.