King's Chapel

By Levi Clancy for לוי on

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King's Chapel was designed by the first American architect, the self-taught man Peter Harrison.

He was born in England in 1716 and emigrated to the American colonies in 1740 where he lived in Providence, Rhode Island. Harrison constructed the building of King's Chapel from 1749-1754 following several key elements of the Georgian style. King's Chapel was the first dressed stone building in the colonies, made of granite quarried in Quincy, Massachusetts.



Edmund Andros, appointed governor of New England by King James II, decided that he wanted to build an Anglican church in Boston. Colonists were opposed to this since most had come to Boston to escape the Anglican Church. When Governor Andros could not find anyone to sell him land to build the church, he built it anyway on a piece of land in the back corner of the burying place. This disturbed graves and earned the hatred of the colonists.


The church was consecrated as King's Chapel.


Construction begins of the new King's Chapel. This rebuilding and expansion disturbed more early graves.


An English benefactor offered to give the stone for the columns of the Church, both inside and out, but the Church couldn't afford to ship them to Boston from England. Instead, trees were chosen from the forest of the Royal Navy in York, Maine, for the exclusive use of the King and cut them for use here in the King's Chapel. These white pines would have been over two hundred years old when they were cut, planed and bored to make these elegant Corinthian-style columns over 250 years ago. The elaborate acanthus leaves on the column tops were hand-carved by master carvers.


The pulpit was built in 1717 by a local Huguenot carver for the first King's Chapel building. It is the oldest pulpit in the United States still in use on its original site. More than 30,000 sermons have been preached from it. Today, the Minister still reads the service from the Reading Desk and then ascends to the pulpit to preach the sermon. Originally, a Clerk stood in the lowest level of the desk from where he led the singing and reading of the psalms and chants. The Sounding Board above the pulpit was installed in 1836 and helps project the minister's voice out over the congregation. The hand-carved rails leading up to it were made by apprentices. Following Puritan tradition, one of them rotates the wrong way symbolizing human imperfection.