The Reverend Edward C. Moore, Central’s minister at the time of this building’s creation, was a graduate at New York’s Union Theological Seminary, where he studied with the father of architect Thomas Hastings, with whom he developed a close friendship that led to the commission of the firm Carrère & Hastings for this building. Congregationalism looks to Renaissance humanism as part of its Protestant heritage, and so a Renaissance building seemed appropriate at the time this was commissioned. Renaissance Classicism was certainly in the public eye as well, bursting on the scene at Chicago’s World Columbian Exposition the very year this was rising. Under the circumstances, Carrère & Hastings – both trained at the École des Beaux Arts – were certainly a logical choice by both the minister and the building committee. But the architects’ minds were apparently still lingering in Florida, where they had completed the Ponce de Leon Hotel in St Augustine and enjoyed some spin-off commissions, all done in the Spanish Baroque style, a reference to the earliest European settlers there. So here is one of the most over-the-top Congregational churches anywhere. But what a good building it is! The interior is magnificent: a large cruciform space under a Guastavino-tile, barrel-vaulted ceiling – a strong, thin system introduced at the Boston Public Library just a few years before this. The stained-glass windows were designed by J.A. Holzer, one-time artistic director at Tiffany & Co., and produced by Duffner & Kimberly Company. Inside and out, this is far and away the best and most intact American Renaissance architectural ensemble in Providence, with few peers elsewhere.
– 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture
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