Centre Street Congregational Church, Machias, Maine

The Centre Street Church in Machias, around 1904. Image from Narrative of the Town of Machias (1904).

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The church in 2015:

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The town of Machias is one of the easternmost places in the United States, so this remote fishing village seems like a strange place to have one of the state’s few examples of early 19th century Gothic Revival architecture.  The Centre Street Congregational Church has stood here overlooking the town since it was completed in 1837, and it was built based on designs by Richard Upjohn, a British-born architect who designed Gothic Revival churches throughout the United States.  Upjohn is better known for works such as Trinity Church at the corner of Broadway and Wall Street in New York, the Church of the Covenant in Boston, and the Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford, but this church in Machias predates all of those.

Since its completion nearly 180 years ago, the church has been remarkably well-preserved.  The only major exterior changes have been a clock in the tower, which was added in 1870, and stained glass windows, which were added in 1899, a few years before the first photo was taken.  The church even has its original bell, which was purchased used in Boston and originally came from Paul Revere’s foundry.  Today, the historic building is still a major focal point in the town, and the 2015 photo shows the setup for the Machias Wild Blueberry Festival, a town-wide festival that is sponsored by the church.

Great Boston Fire (7)

A view of Trinity Church on Summer Street in Boston, taken in 1860. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

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A photo from a similar angle, taken in the aftermath of the Great Boston Fire of 1872. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

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The scene in 2014:

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Taken from almost the same location as the photos in this post, and from the opposite direction of the ones here, these photos illustrate not only the damage after the Great Boston Fire, but also what the scene looked like before the fire.  As mentioned previously, the church was built in 1829, where Boston’s Downtown Crossing shopping district is located today.  The area was heavily damaged in the fire, and the church’s congregation relocated to the present-day Trinity Church at Copley Square later in the 1870s.  Today, nothing remains from the first two photos, and even the historic former Filene’s building in the center of the photo is a shell of its former self – literally.  The interior of the building was completely demolished, leaving only the facade as seen in the photo.  As evidenced by the construction work in the photo, the renovation work is ongoing as of July 2014.

Great Boston Fire (6)

Looking up Summer Street toward Washington Street, following the Great Boston Fire of 1872. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

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The location in 2014:

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Taken near the location of the photos in this post, but facing the opposite direction, the 1872 photo shows some of the damage to the present-day Downtown Crossing area, which is actually mild compared to the damage along other sections of Summer Street.  On the right is the Trinity Church, which was probably the oldest building in the first photo, having been built in 1829.  Following the fire, the area was rebuilt, and by the end of the 19th century became a major shopping center.  It is still that way today, with many department stores and other retailers along Summer Street and Washington Street.  The entire area is closed off to most vehicular travel, making the narrow Boston roads more pedestrian-friendly.

Great Boston Fire (5)

The church after the Great Boston Fire of 1872. Photo Courtesy of Boston Public Library.

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The same location in 2014:

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Boston’s old Trinity Church on Summer Street was built in 1829, and stood until it was gutted in the Great Fire of 1872.  Following the fire, the church members had largely relocated out of the burned area and to new developments in the Back Bay, so the church went with them.  The relatively modest granite church building was replaced by the present-day Trinity Church at Copley Square, perhaps the best-known work of noted American architect Henry Hobson Richardson.  Today, this location is at the heart of the Downtown Crossing shopping district, and as of July 2014 the building to the left was undergoing renovations, hence the fencing in the foreground.

Church of the Unity, Springfield Mass

The Church of the Unity, photographed in 1959. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey collection.

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The same view in 2014:

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The Church of the Unity is also featured in this post, although the photo in that one is close to 100 years older than this “before” one is.  As mentioned there, this church was significant as the first commission of architect Henry Hobson Richardson, and was built between 1866 and 1869.  However, it was demolished only two years after this photo was taken, and was replaced with a parking lot for the Springfield Public Library.

Springfield Public Library, Springfield Mass (2)

Springfield Public Library, around 1900-1910. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same view in 2014:

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Another view of the old library, which was built in 1871 and moved around 1910 in preparation for the construction of the new library, which sits on the same spot today.