Michael F. Dwyer
St. Paul's Parish Church, Baden
13500, Baden Westwood Road, Brandywine, Prince Georges County
St. Paul's Church is a brick structure laid up in Flemish bond with a pattern of glazed headers where the brickwork has not been altered. The plan is a Latin cross, with a nave two bays long and transept arms one bay long; the present apse is an alteration. The facade, to the south, has an arched central doorway opening with flanking round-arched windows. The double doors are square headed below a lintel at the level of the springing of the arch; the panel above the lintel is infilled with two quarter-circle recessed panels with a heavy molded surround. The flanking windows are 24/18 sash with panes of varying sizes; the central vertical mullions are heavy and thus quite pronounced. In the gable, there is a circular stained-glass window with a simple fascia surround. Above the doorway is a sundial, inscribed, "made by George Adams of Fleet Street London." The nave and transept windows are identical to those on the main facade. The end walls of the transepts have triple-arched windows of neo-Georgian design with arched mullions. On the west transept end wall, there are signs of a former door visible in the brickwork; the west transept gable has also been rebuilt. Over the altar, the present apse has a triple-arched window set under a single segmental relieving arch. The window is glazed in stained glass set in lead. Each of the three lights is round headed. Flanking this central motif are two square-headed windows set under segmental relieving arches. The nave and transepts have gable roofs, with the transepts as tall as the nave. The eaves cornice consists of moldings applied across the rafter ends, with a plain board fascia beneath. The interior has been extensively remodeled with a new "open" ceiling and two small rooms added at the south end of the nave. There is a gallery over the rooms.
St. Paul's Church was originally constructed in 1733-1735. A porch on the north side was enclosed in 1769, and in 1793 an addition of 26 by 30 feet was made to the south side. At this time, the main entrance and gallery were also moved to the south side, and the north porch became a vestry room. Major repair and restoration work was done in 1857, with a new open style roof, remodeling of the chancel, and installation of a walnut altar desk and pulpit. In 1882 the north vestry room was removed and a recessed chancel built. The Bishop's Window, a memorial to Bishop Thomas John Claggett, was moved to the chancel window. In 1921 the sanctuary was widened and the chancel deepened. St. Paul's Church is significant in the history of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Maryland for several reasons. First, the perpetuation of this church has provided a record of the religious life of its founders and the generations who followed. The original minutes of vestry proceedings have been maintained since 1733 and church registers of births, baptisms, marriages, and burials since 1831. Secondly, St. Paul's illustrates the transformation of a small, rural, colonial church into an American-style cruciform structure. The porches have been removed and the south wall opened to enlarge the church, but no other major changes have been made in the 20th century. St. Paul's also demonstrates the part that agriculture, particularly of tobacco, played in the 18th century history of the Church of England in Maryland. Tobacco was the principal crop raised at the time, and the most often-used rate of exchange. Taxes, fines, rents, and salaries were paid in tobacco. Prior to the Revolutionary War, the clergymen and the Church itself were supported through tobacco taxes. The General Assembly required vestries to establish precincts in their parishes and to appoint counters to each precinct to enforce crop control in an effort to improve the quality of crops. Vestries were also required to recommend tobacco planters as inspectors for the tobacco warehouses. Early vestry minutes of St. Paul's include many records and details of tobacco transitions. When the tobacco planters flourished, the church flourished. When the planters were financially stricken, the church was also financially depressed.