Filled with history and legends, the Old Round Church in Richmond is a a rare, well-preserved example of a sixteen-sided meeting house. Pristine and picturesque, this church shows the detail of the fine craftsmen who erected the structure in 1812. Let’s take a closer look – inside and out – at this wonderful place.
A meeting place for all.
The Round Church in Richmond was built to serve as the meeting place for the town as well as five different congregations.
The structure is not actually round.
It is technically a 16-sided polygon.
Today it is maintained by the The Richmond Historical Society and is open to the public during the summer and early fall.
It's also available for weddings and other events.
Not your average meeting house.
Typical meetinghouses built in the 18th and 19th centuries were rectangular (occasionally square) in shape.
Its original purpose.
Construction on the Round Church began in 1812 with the intention of acting as a meeting house for the young town, and also to cater to the town's five popular religions.
Bringing people together to worship under the same roof.
These include Richmond was home to Baptists, Christians, Congregationalists, Methodists and Universalists who now had a place where they could worship at their own services, sharing the same building.
So what's the reasoning behind the peculiar shape?
Let's take a look.
Built around a steeple.
William Rhodes was the architect who designed the 16-sided polygon meeting house with a central belfry.
No devils allowed.
One thought is that the church was built with the old saying "a house with no corners leaves nowhere for the devil to hide" in mind. This building certainly doesn't have any corner hiding spots!
A wall for all.
Another popular tale is that the Old Round Church was built by 17 carpenters, one taking each wall, and the last building the belfry.
The most likely reason:
The most likely reason why the church was built in this shape is that there was a similar shaped building in Rhode's hometown which inspired him.
The Old Round Church remains as one of the only examples of a church structure built in this design in the country.
Today the Round Church is on the National Register of Historic Places.