Last weekend, we were in west Alabama and along the way visited St. Andrew’s Church (or St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church) in Prairieville on County Road 12, not too far from Demopolis. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks — and it’s easy to see why:
Gorgeous Carpenter Gothic.
According to its application to the National Register, it:
“is a country church believed to be designed by Richard Upjohn” and “was built in 1853 by slaves belonging to members of the church working under the direction of Peter Lee and Joe Glasgow, Master carpenters, who were slaves of Captain Henry A. Tayloe.” Episcopal services were held in Prairieville in 1834 and the church was consecrated in 1858 by the first Episcopal Bishop of Alabama.
It “served the planters of Perry, Hale, and Marengo counties of the Canebrake area and many baptisms of white families and slaves are recorded in the church annuals. After the War Between the States the number of parishioners steadily decreased because of removals, deaths, and a decline in the population of the community.”
“Around about 1950 the bishop of the diocese and suffragan bishop, in alternate years, began holding a service in St. Andrews’s Church on the fifth Sunday of a month late in the summer or early fall. These services are attended by people from far and near and, weather permitting,the congregation usually fills the church to capacity. As many more people, seated outside the building, hear the services through loudspakers. After worship is concluded, a picnic dinner is enjoyed under the shade of the trees in the church yard.”
large double doors hung on massive iron hinges which were hand-wrought in a plantation forge; the chancel (east end), 20 feet by 15-1/2 feet; the vestry room, 6 feet by 9 feet, attached to the north side of the chancel beginning where it joins the nave.”
“A stain brewed from the stems of tobacco plants was applied to the interior wood walls. No change has been made in the tobacco stain finish and it remains in an excellent state of preservation and has a mellowed appearance. The symbols and figures on the altar rail and elsewhere in the chancel were hand carved.”
“The exterior of the church, painted a red-brown color, is made of long wide boards with battened joints fastened vertically to the framework, and buttresses made of thick wooden boards spaced at appropriate intervals; its lancet windows and high pitched roof are features of the Gothic style of architecture.”
“There is some evidence that the present Gothic entrance replaces a high tower which was removed because of damage caused by decay and woodpeckers. With the exception of the removal of the tower and the construction of a chimney on the south side of the nave, the edifice stands exactly as it was when built.”
In this collage, bottom-middle pic, this is the monument for Mrs. Mourning Bocock — on November 1, 1886, she established a trust fund (that was increased with the bequest of a granddaughter of Captain Taloe) that the application states has kept the church building in repair and maintained even still.