Philadelphia is a walkable city where the modern visitor encounters historic architecture at every turn. In fact, no other American city is so richly endowed with historic buildings as Philadelphia—some dating back to the seventeenth century. In addition to obvious national treasures like Independence Hall, there are thousands of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century homes that continue to shelter and comfort Philadelphians as they have for centuries. Less well known are the hundreds of sacred places—colonial and Victorian Protestant and Catholic churches, Quaker meeting houses, and Jewish synagogues—that enrich every neighborhood. Replete with symbolism and often architecturally impressive, these sacred places await discovery in the pages of this handsome book.
The rich diversity of Philadelphia's sacred places owes its existence to William Penn's guarantee of religious toleration to the many religious denominations attracted to his "holy experiment." They are a metaphor for the modern American pluralistic society that is itself a legacy from Penn. Philadelphia's historic sacred places also reflect how these different congregations chose to celebrate their belief in God through the choice of architectural style, art, and decoration. Here can be found the eloquent simplicity of Quaker meeting houses, the soaring steeples of colonial churches surrounded by atmospheric graveyards, and opulently embellished Roman Catholic parish churches.
Roger Moss has selected fifty of these inspired Philadelphia historic sacred places, and he conducts the reader on a tour of each hallowed site, calling attention to the architecture and fine details that are then recorded in exquisite color photographs by Tom Crane. At each site the reader is provided with the basic information about the congregation that commissioned the building as well as the architects, artists, and artisans who created these masterpieces—collectively, a treasure of our shared cultural heritage.
This opulent volume, by the author and photographer of the acclaimed Historic Houses of Philadelphia, will serve as a guide through the architectural and religious traditions of Philadelphia, complete with maps, telephone numbers, and web sites, so the reader can visit these sacred places in person. There is also an extensive bibliography of further reading on each sacred place.
Roger W. Moss is Emeritus Executive Director of The Athenaeum of Philadelphia and retired Adjunct Professor of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of a number of books, including The American Country House and Victorian Exterior Decoration. Tom Crane is a freelance photographer. His work has been featured in such publications as Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, and the New York Times. Together they collaborated on the book Historic Sacred Places of Philadelphia, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.
"A wondrous visual and historical tour of the city's major places of worship. It's more than a coffee table photo book, and it's more than just a historical look. It combines the best of each genre and becomes a great look into the past of these historic churches, synagogues, and meeting houses."
"Moss proves a knowledgeable guide to Philadelphia's famous and lesser-known sacred places, and Tom Crane's photographs are stunning."
"This book is a must for anyone interested in the early architecture of the Philadelphia area."
~Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography
"A beautiful book of national architectural significance."
~Old House Journal
"Abundant color photographs will make you want to visit them all."