Photo credit: Orlando Ridout V , 1979

Property Name: Christ Church
Date Listed: 7/24/1979
Inventory No.: QA-212
Location: Locust Street (MD 18), Stevensville, Queen Annes County

Description: Christ Church is a modestly scaled frame church and adjacent bell tower, constructed in the Queen Anne style. The present church building, as constructed in 1880, consists of a rectangular frame structure with a steep slate roof, lofty Victorian chimney, and simple but pleasing stained glass windows. The exterior walls exhibit Victorian decorative work executed in cedar shingles and German siding. The facades are divided into panels, defined by chamfered posts and horizontal rails, painted a soft grayish-white. The infill is alternately composed of horizontal or vertical siding and patterned shingles; these are painted a bluish gray. The result is an array of varying colors, textures, and patterns, all unified by the more rigid framework of posts and rails. The bell tower directly adjoins the east facade of the church and is similarly treated, although the infill does not include shingle work, but is composed entirely of narrow horizontal siding. The attenuated pyramidal roof is covered with shingles rather than slate and rests atop an open framework of chamfered posts and arching Stick-Style braces, enclosed by a low railing. The interior of the church is quite dramatic. A lofty, steeply pitched ceiling rises above the congregation, supported by open, Stick-Style trusses. There are three of these, dividing the interior of the building into four bays. The trusses spring from heavy, chamfered posts in the side walls. Large brackets support heavy tie beams, a pair of queen posts rise from the tie beam to a high collar beam, and a braced king post rises from the collar to support a ridge beam. Great curving braces form Gothic arches below the collar and, minus the tie beam, the overall effect resembles a hammer beam truss. All of the timbers are chamfered, and the ends of the braces are scrolled. The ceiling is of narrow, beaded boards laid vertically from ridge to eaveline an secured to the top plate, two sets of purlins, and the ridge beam. The remainder of the interior is equally fine, with Gothic-arched, stained glass windows arranged in three pairs along each side wall and larger arched windows in the upper south gable and behind the altar in the north apse. There are smaller windows on either side of the entrance vestibule and in the transepts. Interior woodwork consists of a heavily molded cornice, chamfered window frames, and a simple chairrail surmounting a dado paneled with narrow, beaded boards. The dark, rich color of the woodwork contrasts with the white plastered walls and soft, muted colors of the stained glass.

Significance: Kent Island is the cradle of the Anglican Church in Maryland, being the site of the earliest Anglican settlement in the colony. A congregation is known to have been established at Claiborne's settlement at Kent Point in the early 1630s, and from here the Anglican faith followed the early colonists as they crossed to the mainland and settled the central Eastern Shore. In 1692 the Governor's Council and the Assembly passed the Act of 1692, officially establishing the English Church in Maryland. Christ Church Parish was one of the thirty parishes recognized in this Act. The present building, constructed in 1880, is the fourth known church constructed by the Parish in the Broad Creek area. It stands today as a superb example of the Queen Anne style of ecclesiastical architecture. This building, together with smaller frame churches in Sudlersville and Hillsboro, presents a textbook study of the tasteful simplicity advocated by such prominent 19th century architects and writers as Richard Upjohn, Calvert Vaux, and A. J. Downing.




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