The "Templeton Run"

The meetinghouse at Templeton (MA).

"Templeton Run" was a term used by Peter Benes of Boston University in his 1978 study of geographic patterns in New England church architecture. While it is common to see clusters of similarly-designed churches, he observed a more linear dispersion for a particular, distinctive design.

The double-octagon steeple at Newport's South Church establishes the building as the northernmost member of the Templeton-style churches. 

The first in the group was designed by Worcester (MA) architect Elias Carter and dedicated in 1811 at Templeton (MA). From that point the design was carried, with modifications, northward 60 miles through western New Hampshire over the span of a dozen years. Elias Carter did not build these other structures, but towns dispatched building committees to study and adapt his design, and some of the same craftsmen migrated from one site to another. 

The official Templeton-derived meetinghouses are located at Troy (NH), Fitzwilliam (NH), Dublin (NH), Hancock (NH), Acworth (NH), and Newport (NH).  Of these, Fitzwilliam is the prime example. The Troy meetinghouse, now the town offices and fire station, has undergone major changes. The Dublin meetinghouse was demolished in 1852. All the others are immediately recognizable as you travel through southwestern New Hampshire. In 2008, only the meetinghouses at Templeton, Hancock, and Newport offered year-round religious services; Acworth is used during the summer months. Troy, Fitzwilliam, and the lower portion of Hancock house their respective town offices.

The Presbyterian church at New Boston (NH), dedicated on December 25, 1823, was omitted from the published "Templeton Run." This wooden structure mirrored the church at Acworth, but retained Newport's altered steeple—no coincidence, as the Newport and New Boston edifices shared the same master builder. The New Boston meetinghouse was destroyed by lightning in 1900, many years after its congregation had abandoned it.

The 1775 meetinghouse at Jaffrey (NH) saw a new tower addition topped by a Templeton-style steeple in 1823, and the 1762 Park Hill Meetinghouse in Westmoreland (NH), having been moved in 1779, was expanded and retrofitted with a Carter-style porch and steeple (minus one octagonal stage) at about the same time. Built a few years later, churches in Framingham (MA), Leominster (MA), and Sutton (MA) also exhibit elements found among the Templeton group, perhaps a reflection of their common indebtedness to the pattern books of Asher Benjamin.

See the locations and dispersion of Carter-inspired churches at Google Maps.

© New Hampshire Steeples, 2012