Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The type of church building being erected today is quite different from the traditional white steepled church on the village green. Church buildings and their location in the community have gradually changed as American religion has become more complex. the changes in religion reflect the dramatic transformation of American society from a rural to an urban culture. This process began after the Civil War, but it was not widely acknowledged until the last decades of the nineteenth century. The transformation was not limited to the large urban centers, but can be seen in towns and villages across the nation. Various characteristics of urban places influence church development and location. Community size, type, vitality, and in Louisiana, dominant creed, play a role in the location and size of church buildings. Community size and vitality also influence the acceptance of new ideas and styles by the congregations. Besides community influences, a variety of other factors affect the type of church building that a congregation erects, these include the following: economic means, current theological or denominational trends, available materials, current technology, cultural and physical environments, access routes, lot size and location, and period of construction. Because each church is a group effort, it is a good indicator of the group's ideal image. This image changes as new ideas are added to the ideal model of what a church building should look like and the functions it is to serve. During the early years of the study period, rectangular buildings with entranceways and projecting chancels were the most popular type of church. Towards the end of the study period, the ideal image began to change as the function of the church changed to include organizations for every age group and interest. The buildings reflected this with the addition of educational and recreational facilities. Denomination and race also influenced the erection of church structures, but these factors were often found not to be as great as has been traditionally supposed. Throughout Louisiana, and across the country, the church was entering the urban age.