Carpenter Gothic, also sometimes called Carpenter's Gothic or Rural Gothic, is a North American architectural style-designation for an application of Gothic Revival architectural detailing and picturesque massing applied to wooden structures built by house-carpenters. The abundance of North American timber and the carpenter-built vernacular architectures based upon it made a picturesque improvisation upon Gothic a natural evolution. Carpenter Gothic improvises upon features that were carved in stone in authentic Gothic architecture, whether original or in more scholarly revival styles; however, in the absence of the restraining influence of genuine Gothic structures,the style was freed to improvise and emphasize charm and quaintness rather than fidelity to received models. The genre received its impetus from the publication by Alexander Jackson Davis of Rural Residences and from detailed plans and elevations in publications by Andrew Jackson Downing.
Carpenter Gothic houses and small churches became common in North America in the late nineteenth century.Additionally during this time, Protestant followers were building many Carpenter Gothic churches throughout the midwest, northeast, and some areas in the south of the US. This style is apart of the Gothic Revival movement. For example. these structures adapted Gothic elements, such as pointed arches, steep gables, and towers, to traditional American light-frame construction. The invention of the scroll saw and mass-produced wood moldings allowed a few of these structures to mimic the florid fenestration of the High Gothic. But in most cases, Carpenter Gothic buildings were relatively unadorned, retaining only the basic elements of pointed-arch windows and steep gables. Probably the best known example of Carpenter Gothic is the house in Eldon, Iowa, that Grant Wood used for the background of his famous painting American Gothic .
Carpenter Gothic is largely confined to small domestic buildings and outbuildings and small churches. It is characterized by its profusion of jig-sawn details, whose craftsmen-designers were freed to experiment with elaborate forms by the invention of the steam-powered scroll saw. A common but not necessary feature is board and batten siding. Other common features include decorative bargeboards, gingerbread trim, pointed-arched windows, wheel window, one-story veranda, and steep central gable.A less common feature is buttressing, especially on churches and larger houses. Exterior elements like elaborate forms pointed arches made their way inside the homes as well. This can be seen in pointed arch openings and doorways.
Being apart of the Gothic Revival, the ornamentation in Carpenter Gothic is much more eclectic, it uses more superficial and obvious motifs.Specifically, Carpenter Gothic ornamentation, referred to as gingerbread, is not limited to use on wooden structures but has been used successfully on other structures especially Gothic Revival brick houses such as the Warren House in a historic district in Newburgh, New York, which is said to epitomize the work of Andrew Jackson Downing, but was actually done by his one-time partner, Calvert Vaux. Ornamentation can be seen in the interior as well. Many elements in the interiors were highly crafted such as staircases, walls, ceilings, and fireplaces. Examples of this ornament use include wainscoting, ceiling beams or coffered ceilings, and incredibly ornate wallpapers. Not only that but gothic rosewood furniture was also utilized.
Carpenter Gothic structures are typically found in most states of the United States, except Arizona and New Mexico. There is one Carpenter Gothic in the Huning Highlands Historical District in downtown Albuquerque circa 1882 built by the Seth family who lived there until 2002. Many Carpenter Gothic houses were built in Nevada in the 1860-1870s (Virginia City, Reno, Carson City, and Carson Valley areas) and still exist (2010). Interestingly, although this style was most common in northern America, nowhere else had built as many churches as in Florida between 1870 and 1900.In Canada, carpenter Gothic places of worship are found in all provinces and the Northwest Territories, while Carpenter Gothic houses seem to be limited to Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime Provinces.
Many American Carpenter Gothic structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which may help to ensure their preservation. Many, though, are not listed and those in urban areas are endangered by the increased value of the land they occupy.
A current example of this is St. Saviour's Episcopal Church, Maspeth, New York, built in 1847 by Richard Upjohn.It was sold to a developer in 2006. Its rectory had already been demolished and a deal with the City of New York to preserve the church in exchange for higher density on the remaining vacant land fell through and the parcel went on the market for $10 million.
After a number of postponements, in March 2008, just hours before the final deadline to demolish the church, a deal was struck with a local community group, whereby they were allowed time to raise money to move the structure. At a cost of some $2 million, the building was reduced to its original appearance and dismantled into pieces, so it could be transported through the narrow, winding streets of the neighborhood. It was reconstructed on the grounds of a cemetery in the nearby neighborhood of Middle Village, where it is now used for community activities.
Some Carpenter Gothic buildings have been relocated for reasons ranging from historic preservation to aesthetics. Some, such as All Saints, Jensen Beach, Florida, have been moved only a few hundred feet on the same property in order to get a better view and to allow for expansion, while others such as Holy Apostles, Satellite Beach, Florida, have been barged many miles in order to be preserved. Others such as All Saints, DeQuincy, Louisiana, have been dismantled, transported long distances and then reassembled in order to be preserved and reused. Some structures have been moved many times.
St. Luke's, Cahaba, Alabama, has had an interesting history of moves. In 1876, due to the danger of flooding in Cahaba, it was dismantled and moved from its original location 25 miles or so to Browns where it was reassembled. In 2006–2007, it was carefully dismantled by students from Auburn University and moved back to Cahaba, where it is now being reassembled by the students on the Cahaba State Historic Site not too far from its original location.
Some Carpenter Gothic structures such as St. Stephen's in Ridgeway, South Carolina, have had their exteriors altered by stuccoing, brick veneering, etc., so that their original style is no longer apparent.
"American Gothic" is a painting by Grant Wood from 1930. This painting depicts American rural life with its subject being a “stern” looking couple in front of a small Carpenter Gothic style house.Wood's inspiration came from a cottage designed in the Carpenter Gothic style with a distinctive upper window and a decision by the artist to paint the house along with "the kind of people I fancied should live in that house."
Steamboat Gothic architecture, a term popularized by Frances Parkinson Keyes's novel of that name,is sometimes confused with Carpenter Gothic architecture, but Steamboat Gothic usually refers to large houses in the Mississippi and Ohio river valleys that were designed to resemble the steamboats on those rivers.
St. Luke's Church in Blue Ridge, Georgia, was built in 1995.Houses and churches are sometimes built in the Carpenter Gothic style into the 21st Century.
Many nineteenth-century timber Gothic Revival structures were built in Australia,and in New Zealand - such as Frederick Thatcher's Old St. Paul's, Wellington, and Benjamin Mountfort's St Mary's, but the term "Carpenter's Gothic" is not often used, and many of their architects also built in stone.
Ralph Adams Cram was a prolific and influential American architect of collegiate and ecclesiastical buildings, often in the Gothic Revival style. Cram & Ferguson and Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson are partnerships in which he worked. Cram was a fellow of the American Institute of Architects.
Richard Upjohn was a British-born American architect who emigrated to the United States and became most famous for his Gothic Revival churches. He was partially responsible for launching the movement to such popularity in the United States. Upjohn also did extensive work in and helped to popularize the Italianate style. He was a founder and the first president of the American Institute of Architects. His son, Richard Michell Upjohn, (1828-1903), was also a well-known architect and served as a partner in his continued architectural firm in New York.
Cahaba, also spelled Cahawba, was the first permanent state capital of Alabama from 1820 to 1825, and the county seat of Dallas County, Alabama until 1866. Located at the confluence of the Alabama and Cahaba rivers, it suffered regular seasonal flooding.
Minard Lafever (1798–1854) was an American architect of churches and houses in the United States in the early nineteenth century.
St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, also known as St. Andrew's Church is a historic church building on County Highway 12 in Prairieville, Alabama. Built by slaves in 1853, it is a remarkably well-preserved example of Carpenter Gothic architecture, its design apparently taken from a book by Richard Upjohn. St. Andrew's was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 7, 1973, and was declared a National Historic Landmark on the same day. Public access is allowed to this National Historic Landmark.
St. Luke's Episcopal Church is a historic Carpenter Gothic church, built during the 1850s at Cahaba, the first capital of Alabama from 1820 to 1826. The unknown builder closely followed plans published by architect Richard Upjohn in his 1852 book Rural Architecture.
Waldwic, also known as the William M. Spencer, III, House, is a historic Carpenter Gothic plantation house and historic district located on the west side of Alabama Highway 69, south of Gallion, Alabama. Built as the main residence and headquarters of a forced-labor farm worked by enslaved people, Waldwic is included in the Plantation Houses of the Alabama Canebrake and Their Associated Outbuildings Multiple Property Submission. The main house and plantation outbuildings were added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 22, 1994.
Ashe Cottage, also known as the Ely House, is a historic Carpenter Gothic house in Demopolis, Alabama. It was built in 1832 and expanded and remodeled in the Gothic Revival style in 1858 by William Cincinnatus Ashe, a physician from North Carolina. The cottage is a 1+1⁄2-story wood-frame building, the front elevation features two semi-octagonal gabled front bays with a one-story porch inset between them. The gables and porch are trimmed with bargeboards in a design taken from Samuel Sloan's plan for "An Old English Cottage" in his 1852 publication, The Model Architect. The house is one of only about twenty remaining residential examples of Gothic Revival architecture remaining in the state. Other historic Gothic Revival residences in the area include Waldwic in Gallion and Fairhope Plantation in Uniontown. Ashe Cottage was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage on August 22, 1975, and to the National Register of Historic Places on 19 October 1978.
Frederick Clarke Withers was an English architect in America, especially renowned for his Gothic Revival ecclesiastical designs. For portions of his professional career, he partnered with fellow immigrant Calvert Vaux; both worked in the office of Andrew Jackson Downing in Newburgh, New York, where they began their careers following Downing's accidental death. Withers greatly participated in the introduction of the High Victorian Gothic style to the United States.
Richard Michell Upjohn, FAIA, was an American architect, co-founder and president of the American Institute of Architects.
Grace Church is an historic Episcopal church at 300 Westminster Street at Mathewson Street in downtown Providence, Rhode Island. It was built in 1845-46 and was designed by Richard Upjohn in the Gothic Revival style.
The Church of the Holy Cross in Middletown, Rhode Island, is a parish church of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island of The Episcopal Church. The church is located at 1439 West Main Road, Middletown, Rhode Island. It is an early example of Richard Upjohn's work in translating Gothic architecture from stone to affordable designs for small, wooden churches. Built in 1845, Holy Cross Church exemplifies the architecture made accessible by the publication in 1852 of Upjohn's book, Rural Architecture. In its survey of Middletown's architectural resources, the Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission recommended the Church of the Holy Cross for inclusion in the National Register, along with Upjohn's more luxurious Italianate Hamilton Hoppin House.
St. Peter's Episcopal Church of Peekskill, New York, United States, is located on the north edge of the city's downtown. It is a three-building complex of stone Late Gothic Revival buildings on a half-acre dating to the late 19th century and added onto at successive later dates.
St. Luke's Episcopal Church is a historic Episcopal church located on Bedford Road in Katonah, New York, United States. It is a Tudor Revival structure dating to the early 1920s, housing a congregation restarted in the early 20th century.
Trinity Episcopal Church is an Episcopal church in Litchfield, Minnesota, United States, built in 1871 in Carpenter Gothic style. It has been attributed to the noted New York architect Richard Upjohn. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 for having local significance in the theme of architecture. It was nominated as a superlative example of Carpenter Gothic design from the mid-19th century.
St. John Chrysostom Church, also known as the Episcopal Church of St. John Chrysostom and the Little Red Church on the Hill, is a wooden Episcopal church built in 1852 in Delafield, Waukesha County, Wisconsin. In 1972 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Robert Sands Schuyler, often written as R. S. Schuyler and occasionally as R. V. Schuyler, was a New York architect, designer, and religious leader who moved to Florida and joined political, religious, and civil organizations on Amelia Island. He served as Clerk of the City of Fernandina, chaired the Fernandina Library Association when it was established in 1891, and was a lay reader at the Santa Fe Lake, Florida, Episcopal congregation.
The architecture of Jacksonville is a combination of historic and modern styles reflecting the city's early position as a regional center of business. According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, there are more buildings built before 1967 in Jacksonville than any other city in Florida, but it is also important to note that few structures in the city center predate the Great Fire of 1901. Numerous buildings in the city have held state height records, dating as far back as 1902, and last holding a record in 1981.
The Boonton Historic District is a 9-acre (3.6 ha) historic district along Main, Church, Birch, Cornelia, and Cedar Streets in the town of Boonton in Morris County, New Jersey. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 29, 1980, for its significance in architecture. The district has 22 contributing buildings, including the Boonton Public Library, which was previously listed individually on the NRHP.