|Commissioned in 1896 by the Free Church of Scotland as St Matthew's Church, this, the only Mackintosh church to be completed,1 is now the home of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society. It was designed when Mackintosh was an employee, not yet a partner, of the experienced Glasgow architectural practice of Honeyman and Keppie. And it offered many challenges to the young trainee. Located within the developing area of Springbank, near Maryhill, "the site was a prominent though very tight one, surrounded by tall tenements and a warehouse. Although the church is quite small, the powerful massing and the rich modelling, which produces deep shadows, gave it a well-judged place in the street scene" (McWilliam 326). In addition, the architect was supposed to respect the Free Church emphasis on simplicity in design. Although the design seems stark at first, on examination many original details are evident.|
An asymmetrical facadeInstead of identical bays marching logically down the nave facade, several diverse groupings are evident in the elevation.
|According to the pamphlet distributed at the church, the "tower has been placed on the corner to provide a landmark feature which visually anchors the building on the site." Crawford notes that "the south-west tower, modelled on a picturesquely unfinished medieval church tower at Merriott in Somerset which Mackintosh sketched in 1895, has a stair turret almost growing out of it (44-6).|
The southwest corner with short tapering tower and entrance door to narthex within(See also row below.)
|In reality, this south facade fronts a passage aisle within which connects the southwest entrance door and the far east entrance vestibule. The elevation consists of the tower and entrance bay to the southwest, then a two-story gabled pair of bays with double window below, then two recessed bays with triple lower windows, and finally another entrance bay, much like a two-story medieval entrance porch. (See page 2 for details of this bay.)|
Continue to page 2.
1Note that he designed an Anglican Cathedral for Liverpool, as part of a competition, but it was never built; the Free Church Halls at Ruchill Street in Glasgow were designed and built, however. See photographs here.
Works consulted or quoted:
Pamphlet guide distributed at the church.
Crawford, Alan. Charles Rennie Mackintosh. London: Thames & Hudson, 1995.
McWilliam, Colin, ed. The Buildings of Scotland. London: Penguin, 1990.
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