Paul Baker Touart
Grace Episcopal Church
Mt. Vernon Road (MD 362), Mt. Vernon, Somerset County
Grace Episcopal Church, erected in 1846-1847, is a single-story, three-bay Gothic Revival frame church on a brick foundation. The west or principal elevation is marked by a single Gothic arched double-door opening on the first floor. Each lateral side of the church is finished with three diamond-pane Gothic arched sash windows. The upper portion of the window has large arched muntins that conform to the Gothic point of the window. The cornice is boxed and trimmed with a plain bed molding. The east end of the main block is largely covered by a shorter gable-roofed altar and shed-roofed sacristy. On the interior, the sanctuary is divided by a center aisle with simple flush panel pews to each side. The end boards and the backs of the pews have delicate beaded boarders around each panel. The ceiling is vaulted and marked by plaster ribs. Large timber tie beams stretch across to connect the side walls. Lighting the sanctuary are elaborate Victorian chandeliers and wall sconces. Greek Revival influences can be seen in the door surrounds. Surrounding the church is a 19th and 20th century cemetery. In 1986, a single-story frame parish hall was erected west of the church and oriented on a perpendicular axis.
Erected in 1846-1847, Grace Episcopal Church is the earliest of the extant Gothic Revival churches in Somerset County. The mid-19th century was a period of growth in Somerset County. In response to this growth, several churches were built, particularly for the Methodist, who were experiencing rapid expansion in membership, and for the Episcopalians, who were reorganizing and rebuilding following a decline after the Revolution. The prevailing architectural styles utilized for these building are the Greek Revival, of which only two stand, and the Gothic Revival, which appears to have been the most commonly built. Of the Gothic Revival examples, the predominant examples exhibit the board-and-batten influence as published by Richard Upjohn, a prominent mid-19th century architect. Grace Episcopal Church, however, exhibits Greek Revival overtones in the simple rectangular shape and use of decorative corner blocks in the door and window surrounds but is clearly Gothic in the steeply pitched roof and large lancet arches of the window and door openings. Of additional architectural significance is the integrity of the interior of Grace Episcopal Church. The interior retains nearly all of its original decorative, as well as functional, features: pews, rood screen, altar furniture, chandeliers, and sconces.