University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

March 7, 2013: The Rise and Fall of the Postwar A-Frame Church

Resurrection Roseville 036Gretchen Buggeln will examine the genesis, popularity, and decline of the ubiquitous A-frame church, from early camp chapels to the omnipresent, laminated truss, suburban structures used by virtually all major American religious denominations. The successful match between the A-frame church and the aspirations of suburban congregations indicates its special correspondence with suburban religious culture. In short, the A-frame balanced the tensions suburbanites navigated—religious, economic, and symbolic. It looked “like a church” while signaling a contemporary spirit.

Gretchen Buggeln is the Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair in Christianity and the Arts and Associate Professor of Art History and Humanities at Christ College, Valparaiso University.  Buggeln writes and teaches about the intersection of Christian belief and the material world. Her primary research interest is American sacred spaces, and she is currently at work on a book about the ubiquitous, modern-style, suburban church of the postwar era. Professor Buggeln has published numerous essays on the religious landscape. Her book, Temples of Grace: The Material Transformation of Connecticut’s Churches, 1790-1840 (2003) won national book awards from the Vernacular Architecture Forum and the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic.  Before coming to Valparaiso in 2004, she worked at the H.F. du Pont Winterthur Museum in Delaware, and she continues to be active in the museum field by reviewing exhibitions and writing about how museums interpret religious artifacts and belief.  Buggeln teaches  “Word and Image” and upper-level seminars such as “Museum History and Culture,” “The American Home,” and “American Consumer Culture.” Organized by the Design, Architecture, and Culture group of Quadrant.

This talk is available for download as audio (.mp3 – 50.3 MB) or video (.m4v – 150.2 MB).

Question and Answer Session

This talk is available for download as audio (.mp3 – 27.5 MB) or video (.m4v – 147.8 MB).

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One Comment

  1. Locus Iste » An Uplifting Mid-Century Chapel for the ChildrenSeptember 8, 2013 at 2:41 pmReply

    […] and the material world and is currently working on a book on these churches, gave a lecture “The Rise and Fall of the Postwar A-Frame Church” which is available as a video from the University of Minnesota. This is a great resource, […]

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