On Nov. 21st, 2010, as part of our year of celebration for the 300th anniversary of St. Paul’s Church, we rededicated the current church building, first dedicated November 28, 1923.
As we sit in this beautiful light filled sanctuary, surrounded by its brilliant white, neoclassical interior, and we reflect on our 300th Anniversary theme Living Stones, Living Spirit we might also reflect on St. Paul’s architect, …the earthly architect that is, not the heavenly. His name was William Graves Perry. Born in Boston into a wealthy family and raised in Newburyport in a High Street mansion, he graduated from Harvard, MIT and the Paris L’Ecole des Beaux Arts by 1913. He started his own architectural firm in 1922 after being approached to design a new St. Paul’s Church. He already had a reputation behind him as a fine designer of private school, college and commercial buildings. You can see his work at Phillips Andover, Harvard and Brown University among others.
For the new church he chose to retain the original shape and the structural exterior design of the 1800 church, only covered in granite to match the chapel and set back much farther from the road. He kept the box pews only more compact, shortened the original wrap around balcony to the back wall so the windows could be enlarged to allow a flood of natural light. He moved the original modest, low pulpit to the other side and created a grand wine glass affair that set the priest high above the congregation.
After St. Paul’s, he went on to be chosen in 1927 as an architect in Williamsburg, Virginia where the Rockefellers were about to undertake perhaps the largest historic restoration project in America. Perry stayed on as an architect at Colonial Williamsburg until 1953, recreating many of its lost colonial era buildings. He reappeared in Newburyport in the 1970s when the downtown was threatened with demolition. He lent his name, his talents and his prestige to the cause of its survival and eventual restoration.
We can thank him and many others for this light, ethereal place where we come together to experience the living spirit.
Bronson de Stadler
Music is one of God’s greatest gifts to humanity, and a gift we can return to God. At St. Paul’s we are blessed to have a building with good acoustics, and we’re delighted to provide performance space where people can gather to enjoy this gift of music.
We host the Newburyport Chamber Music Festival, for their August concert series and occasional events throughout the year.
We host the Cantemus Chamber Chorus of Ipswich for several performances each year.
If you are interested in using St. Paul’s worship for music performance, please don’t hesitate to contact us and ask about making arrangements for your event.
St. Paul’s was founded in 1711 by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. We have been in continuous ministry to the people of Newburyport since then. We’re celebrating our 300th anniversary with lots of events this coming year. Take a look at our St. Paul’s 300th Anniversary Schedule of Events.. (pdf).