Alden B. Dow designed more than 30 religious structures during his career as an architect. After houses, he most enjoyed the challenge of elevating the way people thought about and experienced their houses of worship. In speaking to delegates attending the National Conference on Church Architecture in 1958, Mr. Dow called for a “creative point of view to replace the blind conformity of today’s churches” and advocated the adoption of a “position of creativeness” in designing church buildings.
The Hellenic Orthodox Community Church of St. George in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, was designed by Mr. Dow in 1962 and is visually appealing in terms of its creation and execution. Set alongside a gently-rising knoll, the vaulted ribbed roof of the church rests perfectly on the clean horizontal lines that extend the length of the church as one approaches it. Outside the entrance stands a tall stylized Greek cross with open semi-circular designs at the intersection of the four arms, harmonizing nicely with the rounded shape of the roof nearby.
Inside the church, the barrel vault ceiling draws the eye to the large, circular patterned window at the end of it. On display in the Archives are small drawings showing several variations in the design of the window. As built, it features an “eternal light” cross in the center with squares of colored and clear glass through which trees and sky are visible. In front of and below the window is an eight-panel icon screen, the center panels of which can be opened and closed. Each panel is made of multiple layers of acrylic set into a wood frame. The screen was designed by Midland artist Charles A. Breed, a long-time colleague, neighbor and friend of Mr. and Mrs. Dow and their family.
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