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Maryland's National Register Properties



Photo credit: Michael O. Bourne, 07/1975
Old Wye Church
Inventory No.: T-55
Other Name(s): Wye Chapel, St. Luke's, Wye
Date Listed: 8/9/1984
Location: Wye Mills Easton Road (MD 662) , Wye Mills, Talbot County
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: Specific Dates built 1717-1721; restored 1947-1949
Architect/Builder: William Elbert, builder, 1721; William Graves Perry, restoration architect 1949
Description: Old Wye Church is a one-story, gable-roofed, rectangular brick structure originally constructed in 1717-1721, extensively renovated in 1854, and restored in 1947-1949 to its 18th century appearance. The entrance is centered in the west gable, and features a Doric enframement with fluted pilasters supporting a full entablature. A large circular window (added in 1949) is centered in the gable above the entrance, and flanked by a small circular window on either side. The side elevations are four bays wide, defined by shouldered buttresses and holding semicircular-arched 12/16 sash. The main block of the church measures approximately 25' x 50'; a 16' x 18' chancel extends from the east gable. The chancel is one bay wide, with a Palladian window in its gable end. A small c. 1854 shed-roofed sacristy is attached to the south side of the chancel. On the interior, three rows of box pews are disposed according to a plan drawn in 1723. A hanging pulpit is centered on the north wall and is flanked by a lectern and reading desk. In the chancel, the altar rests on an elevated platform behind the altar rail with turned balusters. The ceilings of both areas are arched, and the nave floor is paved with brick. A gallery spans the west end of the nave. Northwest of the church stands a reconstruction of the 1761-1763 Vestry House, on its original foundation. Extensive documentary records, coupled with surviving architectural evidence, guided the 1947-1949 restoration. Significance: Old Wye Church is significant for its architecture, and for its association with the early development of the Episcopal religion in Maryland. Even counting several ruins, fewer than a dozen 18th century brick churches survive in Maryland to reflect the period 1692-1776 when the Anglican faith was the colony's official, established religion. Old Wye Church is the only church of this period which remains standing in Talbot County (one other structure, White Marsh Church, survives only in ruins). The vestry records for St. Paul's (later Wye) Parish document all phases and aspects of the construction, improvement, maintenance, furnishing, and renovation of Old Wye Church in considerable detail; these sources, and surviving architectural evidence, contributed to the authenticity of the 1947-1949 restoration. The church retains considerable integrity, and embodies the distinctive characteristics of Georgian Anglican architecture in its brick construction (Flemish bond above a chamfered water table, English bond below, with glazed headers highlighting the principal facade and the window arches), semicircular-arched window openings, shouldered buttresses, rectangular plan, and simple massing.

 

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