First Congregational Church of East Machias, East Machias, Maine, 1836
© 1975 Steve Rosenthal

Old First Church, Old Bennington, Vermont, 1805
© 2005 Steve Rosenthal

Old Trinity Episcopal Church, Brooklyn, Connecticut, 1771
© 2004 Steve Rosenthal

Rocky Hill Meeting House, Amesbury, Massachusetts, 1785
© 1996 Steve Rosenthal

South Ferry Church, Narragansett, Rhode Island, 1850
© 2005 Steve Rosenthal

Washington Congregational Church, 1840, Schoolhouse, 1843, and Town Hall, 1787, Washington, New Hampshire
© 2002 Steve Rosenthal

White on White: Churches of Rural New England

June 30, 2012 - September 23, 2012

White on White: Churches of Rural New England is a visual journey through the New England landscape of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as viewed through the lens of architectural design and historic preservation.

Organized by Historic New England of Boston, Massachusetts, this exhibition presents forty photographs of iconic New England churches taken by renowned architectural photographer Steve Rosenthal.

These remarkable small-town, white country structures were erected by local builders, joiners and occasionally by itinerant master carpenters. With no trained architects or schools of architecture in the country at the time, inspiration came from traditional designs and pattern books.

Steve Rosenthal began photographing the churches in the 1960s and the project gradually became a personal quest. His affinity for the subject is apparent in the luminous black-and-white photographs that capture the effect of light on three-dimensional forms and the abstract patterns of shingles and shutters. His work, which displays the intrinsic beauty of the architecture while creating a world of rich order and rational light, allows the viewer to follow the evolution of church styles from the early meetinghouse through the changing patterns of Greek and Gothic revivals.

"These are the buildings which give New England towns and villages a unique sense of place and define, in many minds, the New England character,” Rosenthal explains. “Collectively, they are as important to the cultural and architectural history of these villages as are the great cathedrals to the cities of Europe."

Revered for their physical beauty, simplicity and elegance – and for their role in the early history of this country, the early churches of New England hold a special place in the American consciousness. Rosenthal, who trained as an architect and is an accomplished architectural photographer, has traveled throughout the northeast capturing what remains of these architectural gems. The photographs in White on White: Churches of Rural New England are personally selected by Rosenthal from his book of the same name.

About Steve Rosenthal

Steve Rosenthal began to photograph architecture while working as an architect in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the late 1060s. Not long afterward, he turned to architectural photography as a full-time career and very quickly established himself at the top of his field in New England. He has won numerous awards including a medal given by the American Institute of Architects for “distinguished achievements that enhance or influence the environment and the architectural profession.” His book White on White: Churches of Rural New England, photographs by Steve Rosenthal with an essay by Verlyn Klinkenborg and an afterword by Robert Campbell, is available through Historic New England. [Hard cover, 14” x 12”, 136 pages, 80 large black-and-white photographs. $85.] Call (617) 227-3956 to order or shop online at www.HistoricNewEngland.org .

About Historic New England

White on White is one of Historic New England’s traveling exhibitions. Historic New England is the oldest, regional heritage organization in the nation. We bring history to life while preserving the past for everyone interested in exploring New England from the seventeenth century to today. Historic New England owns and operates thirty-six historic homes and landscapes spanning five states. We share the region’s history through vast collections, publications, public programs, museum properties, archives, and family stories that document more than four hundred years of life in New England. Visit www.HistoricNewEngland.org .

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