Unitarian Church

A fine example of Greek Revival architecture. It was erected in 1835-36 at a cost of $3500, mostly given by Shippen and Huidekoper families. Planned by the builder of Fort Sumter, General George W. Cullum.

Greek Revivalist Architecture saw a rise in popularity as a result of several different factors. Interest in classic culture was stimulated by the revolution of Greece against the Ottoman empire in the late 18th century. The discovery of the ruins of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in the mid 18th century also sparked an interest in classical Roman history, which in turn led to the study of Ancient Greece. Though the style was initially popular in Europe, several European architects such as Benjamin Henry Latrobe would bring the style to the United States’ East coast and replaced the Colonial and Federal or Adam styles of design. 

The building now known as the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Meadville was built and dedicated as the Independent Congregational Church in 1836, in the Greek Revival style from the plans drafted by George Washington Cullum. George’s brother Horace, a trustee of the church, along with their sister in-law Anna Huidekoper, who was in correspondence with George, ensured that George’s design would be adhered to strictly. Cullum, an army engineer who graduated from the United States Military Academy, modeled this church after another Unitarian church located in Philadelphia. This church would later burn down in a fire, leaving the Meadville church as the closest example of this building. The style of the church follows that of a 5th century b.c. Doric prostyle temple, which coincides with the vision of the founding congregation of the church serving as a temple to worship. There have been no major alterations to the general appearance of the building, leaving it very close to its original 1836 form. The building has been recognized by the Pennsylvania State Historical Commission, the National Register of Historic Places, and the Federal Historic American Buildings survey as a valuable historic and artistic landmark.