Influences of African American Religious Practices on the Architecture of Early African American Church Buildings 1842-1917
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The purpose of this dissertation is to discover whether the evolution of African American religious socio-cultural traditions influenced the design and construction of six African American church buildings, located in the southern United States, and constructed between 1842 and 1917. The research is structured in a case study methodology which examines each church individually against four causal influences: Afrocentric and Eurocentric religious traditions, architectural styles, regionalism, and local architectural vernacular. The results are intended to provide answers to stated research questions within the dissertation regarding ethnic-religious practices and ethnic social and celebratory practices which may or may not be evident in the design or construction of the six churches. The research shall also examine whether there are cultural and architectural influences on building design by African American architects. There are two literature references relevant to this dissertation. The first is the introduction of African American religious practices such as music and song, the development of African American choirs, and the coordination of African rhythms to the African American worship experience. The second reference is the varied examples of regional architecture which existed throughout the southern United States, and its influence based on local vernacular building design and the culture and heritage of the people that the buildings supported. The collected data on the six churches were organized according to the reporting format of the Historic Architectural Building Surveys (HABS), used to document important examples of architecture across the United States. This study concludes that architecture style, regionalism, and local design vernacular influenced the design of the six African American church buildings more than the influence of cultural or religious African American traditions.
Hunter, Christopher Scott (2018). Influences of African American Religious Practices on the Architecture of Early African American Church Buildings 1842-1917. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from