Photo credit: Paul Baker Touart , 05/1985

Property Name: St. Peter's Methodist Episcopal Church
Date Listed: 11/2/1990
Inventory No.: S-289
Location: St. Peters Church Road, Hopewell, Somerset County

Description: St. Peter's Methodist Episcopal Church is a large single-story gable-front Gothic frame church with four-story bell tower on the southern corner. Spreading to the southwest, northwest and northeast sides is a cemetery with 19th and 20th century markers. Built in 1850 and extensively reworked in 1901, the church is sheathed with a combination of narrow weatherboards and fishscale shingles. The upper gable and top fourth of the tower are sheathed with a combination of round-butt and pointed shingles. The steeply pitched gable roof has extended eaves and exposed rafter feet. The northwest or rear elevation has a centrally located shed-roofed apse. The southeast (main) facade of the church is distinguished by a single Gothic-arched window opening which consists of a pair of pointed arch windows. A round, colored glass window pierces the upper gable at the transition between weatherboards and patterned wood shingles. The southeast tower elevation consists of a large Gothic-arched double-door opening with a diamond-pane transom. A small diamond-paned, diamond-shaped window marks the second level, while a small round window distinguishes the third level. The pyramidal roofed belfry is framed by four shingled columns with arched openings between each column. Patterned wood shingles cover the pyramidal tower, which is topped by a turned wood finial. The northeast and southwest sides are essentially alike with each wall marked by three diamond-paned lancet windows. The northwest or rear elevation has a centrally located shed-roofed apse. Each side of the apse has a narrow lancet window, while the apse itself is flanked by lancet windows. The church interior dates from the extensive 1901 remodeling. The sanctuary ceiling has narrow beaded boards with a cove cornice around the sides. The altar is separated from the main body of the sanctuary by a turned post balustrade.

Significance: St. Peter's Methodist Episcopal Church is important for the architectural character of its present appearance which is the result of a 1901 remodeling. The building has the distinctive characteristics of the Gothic style rural church built in Somerset County in some numbers in the closing decades of the 19th century and continued to a lesser amount in the early decades of the 20th. Typically, these buildings have a central rectangular block with a sharply pitched roof and large Gothic arched windows. Added to this generally are a bell tower and pavilions with a resultant complex T or cross plan. These churches are prominent usual landmarks on the flat terrain of Somerset County. St. Peter's represents a restrained version of this Gothic church on the exterior. The interior, however, is elaborately decorated with beaded boards and turned balusters. Distinctive is the angling of the pews which is more unusual than usual for this type of church in the county. Rock Creek Methodist Episcopal Church near Deal Island has a sweeping curve arrangement of pews but is a larger structure. Unlike the other Gothic churches but a reflection of its turn of the 20th century date is the Romanesque treatment to the cap of the bell tower. The cap is characterized by shingle siding, round arches, and a pyramidal roof.




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