THE ZAHL FILE: REPORT FROM THE ROAD — EGYPTIAN REVIVAL

On his recent trip to Paducah, Kentucky, Paul Zahl passed through Nashville and made a special trip to see . . . a Presbyterian church done in a very strange style.  He writes:

This photo is a little dark, but was the best I could do given the
available lighting.  Together with the First Presbyterian Church, also known as the Old Whaler's Church, at Sag Harbor, Long Island, this is one of the earliest Egyptian
Revival churches in America.  Now known as the Downtown Presbyterian Church, it was designed by William Strickland in 1849.
 It is directly across, or almost directly across, from the Capitol, in
the center of Nashville.  Because Presbyterian churches are rarely open
during the week, I was doubtful that my friend Ray and I could get in
but . . . dashing around the block to the church office, I found the
sexton.  She was just “closing up”.  Fortunately, she opened the
church, and I got in.


It is amazing.  Central pulpit, large organ and organ case, classic
Communion table under the pulpit.  I looked for the Mummy behind
the pulpit, but no dice.  I am believing that Kharis rests directly
under the pulpit.  Wonder, too, whether the preaching in this church is
sufficient to waken him.  I hope so . . . or maybe I don't.


I must say that the Egyptian Revival style in early 19th-Century American architecture was more or less off my radar, and the fact that it was used for Presbyterian churches seems delightfully odd.

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