Thursday, October 30, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 166

Christ Church, Alexandria, Virginia

This week’s postcard is used and postmarked 1938.  It is a Linen card, popular during the 1930s and 1940s, produced using the C.T. American Art coloring method. B.S. Reynolds of Washington, D.C published the card.  The picture is of Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia and is one of the churches where George Washington attended.  It is located 9 miles from his home at Mount Vernon.  Other notable people who also attended services here were the Lees and Lafayette. 

Originally built in 1773 it is one of the oldest churches in the United States.  Constructed of red brick, although it looks more rectangular it is actually a square.  The church and accompanying land measures one acre and includes a cemetery.  There have been additions to the campus but the core building is much the same as it was in the beginning and is still used as a church today.  None of the original architectural drawings exist; however, modern computer generated drawings have been produced from the building. 

The basic design for the doors and windows came from plans made by Batty Langley dating from 1739.  Batty Langley (1696 - 1751) was an English garden designer and an author of several books such as, Ancient Architecture Restored, Gothic Architecture, improved by Rules and Proportions, and The City and Country Builder’s and Workman’s Treasury of Designs.  He was known to have been a self-promoter.  His books were disdained by some in England;however, his “do it yourself” type books were very popular in the American colonies.  The books had engraved designs for structures and these designs were implemented in many colonial buildings.  Several of the old colonial churches in the United States have a similar design—five windows on one side, three windows on the other, and something Langley called “Rusticated Doors.”  Christ Church has just the one door while some of the others also have doors on the sides and more than one altar.  A church built at the same time in Falls Church, Virginia is almost identical to the one shown on the card.  The bell tower and steeple for the Alexandria church were added later.

For additional information and to view a video about the church architecture, please see:

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