Peter E. Kurtze
St. Mary's Episcopal Church
5610, Dogwood Road, Woodlawn, Baltimore County
St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Woodlawn, is a board-and-batten frame Gothic structure designed by the Baltimore architectural firm of Dixon and Carson and constructed in 1873 near Woodlawn, a streetcar suburb of Baltimore City. The church is rectangular, with a steeply pitched gable roof, and faces south; the principal facade is five bays wide, with a two-bay-wide chancel extending from the east gable end. The entrance is located in a gabled vestibule projecting from the westernmost bay of the facade. A small open gable-roofed belfry rises from the east gable peak. A three-part composition of lancet windows lights the west gable, and a rose window pierces the east; all openings are lancet arched, and windows are of stained and etched glass. A modern parish hall adjoins the church on the northeast. The interior remains largely intact. The walls are finished in plaster above narrow vertical beaded wainscoting which rises to the level of the window sills. The windows are framed with simple two-part architraves. Interior doors (one leading in from the vestibule, and one opening from the easternmost bay of the north wall into the vestry room) are rectangular and double-leafed; each leaf has two oblong panels, one above the other, and they are set within a lancet-arched opening with similar paneling filling the peak. Square engaged posts define the interior bays, rising to decorative rafter trusses (the ceiling was dropped to the level of the collar beams in a c. 1945 renovation). The pews in the sanctuary are modern, but original pews survive in the choir stalls flanking the chancel. The chancel flooring is edged with several bands of alternating light and dark one-inch hardwood. Choir stalls on either side of the chancel are defined by open lancet arcade screens above waist-high wainscot partitions. The church retains considerable integrity. Apart from the parish hall wing, the only alteration was the 1984 installation of synthetic siding; an alteration which was designed to be reversible and involved the minimum practicable damage to the historic fabric of the building. Siding imitating vertical boards was chosen to reproduce as closely as possible the visual effect of the original board and batten.
St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Woodlawn, is significant for its architecture, exemplifying the influence of the Gothic Revival on the design of rural frame churches in the third quarter of the 19th century. One of the fewer than ten surviving churches in Maryland whose construction, form, proportions, and detailing recall patterns by Richard Upjohn in 1852. St. Mary's derives additional significance from its association with the prominent Baltimore architectural firm of Dixon and Carson, to whose design it was constructed in 1873. This modest frame building is atypical of the work of this firm which was more commonly identified with imposing Gothic churches in urban Baltimore in the 1870s.