Press and Reviews
Steve Rosenthal

I began photographing New England churches in the mid-1960s, and these photographs are a personal selection taken over the succeeding decades. These are the buildings that give New England towns and villages a unique sense of place and define, in many minds, the New England character. Collectively, they are as important to the cultural and architectural history of these villages as are the great cathedrals to the cities of Europe. Regardless of one’s religious persuasion, one cannot help but be moved by their presence. They are a part of all of us.

These remarkable small-town white country structures were erected by local builders, joiners, and occasionally by itinerant master carpenters. There were no formally trained architects or even schools of architecture in America at the time. Their inspiration came from traditional designs and from pattern books. These photographs celebrate New England church architecture, with its sense of rightness of proportion, quality of craftsmanship, and commanding siting.

This is also a preservation story. It is inspiring that several of these churches were restored by their congregations long before the preservation movement took hold in this country. Many other churches are now threatened as congregations shrink and maintenance costs rise. Some have been damaged by insensitive additions or inappropriate materials. Others have been decommissioned and converted to other uses.

This collection of photographs include images of evocative survivors in the New England landscape. They were taken on “4x5” film, scanned, and digitally output, and have been manipulated only to maximize the potential of the information contained in the original negative, not to remove content or alter the context.

Steve Rosenthal