Portal #4725

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The Story

This old country church in weathered wood with the fancy door sits in a very small and very rural farming town near the Maryland-Pennsylvania border. It’s always been rather isolated from other towns surrounded by nothing but farms, forest, and mountains for a long way. That isolation would have been greater back in the day and leads me to think this country church was built by the local men. One of them was obviously a pretty skilled finish carpenter. He put his all into this wooden church door for all to see, both for his faith and for any potential customers who might need his high craftsmanship and creativity. Roughly, the timeline might be the mid-1800s Victorian era around or after the Civil War.

Although some of this fancy entrance appears to be masonry block, it is made entirely from wood with great detail. Look closely at what appears to be stone blocks and there are nail holes and cracks in the weathered wood. The larger quoins are wood and the blocks have been simulated by chamfered boards. It was an inexpensive way to get a good appearance and some stateliness. Funny, for all the Victorian design elaboration, the finishing touch was a simple white porcelain doorknob. I chalk that up to the penny-wise practicality of the farmers who made up this congregation.

This building was found by accident while cruising the back roads and farmland with my friend and sidekick Bobby. Being a photographic no-brainer, we turned around right away to go back and shoot the place. I love the symmetry and faded-out color of this old place with the fantastic weathering that only time gives.

Sometimes, unfortunately, time goes on as it always does. Today this church is a wood shop and the entire building is sheathed in modern metal siding in a rather putrid medium blue. Having lost all its character, this old country church with the fancy entrance isn’t much to look at nowadays. I’d say the soul of this place has passed on away from us….it simply couldn’t be kept in a metal box.

Location: Rainsburg, Bedford County, Pennsylvania. Image and text © Andrew Dierks

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