During his early years in Texas, Flanders designed only a small number of churches. He has been attributed with the 1877 Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, although that appears unlikely. The first confirmed church design was the St. James Episcopal Church of Texarkana, TX. Done in 1878, it was designed by "Archer & Flanders". Archer is the architect Flanders joined when he first moved to Dallas. This brief relationship with Archer lasted only about a year.
The congregation began raising funds in 1875 and in 1877 made application for recognition by the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America which was granted and the first service in the new building was held February 3rd, 1878.
In their book American Vernacular Interior Architecture 1870-1940, Jan Jennings and Robert Gottfried list six basic designs that most community churches used as a basis for their plans. One of the six styles is the "Akron Plan" which originated in Ohio in the city of the same name. This is a functional design that JEF utilized and adapted for his twentieth century churches.
By the turn of the twentieth century, Flanders was no longer the budding young architect that had arrived in Dallas twenty-four years earlier. His fiftieth birthday was in 1899. Many of his twentieth century works were more institutional than commercial - buildings such as schools, lodges, and churches. Just as courthouses had materialized as a market in 1883, churches appeared as a market in the 1900's. It was also during this time that JEF made his two sons partners in the business and the name was changed to "Flanders and Flanders". In his 1925 interview, Flanders stated that he had designed 125 churches in Texas and additional ones in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri. The Methodists in particular favored his styling and most of the plans were for that denomination. Most of the exceptions were Christian churches.
To produce such a large number of designs in such a short period of time, thirteen years, many were built from similar floor plans with the main changes being exterior ones. Most of these later JEF churches can be categorized into one of five basic floor plan:
The second style is a variation of the first and relocates two of the towers to each end of a rounded portico. Where two or three towers were on a corner of the building in the first style, No more than one is possible in this variation. The first example is the extant Methodist church in Terrell, Texas. This style, of course is well suited for a corner location.
The first example of this style, again a variation of the first style, is the 1903 Methodist church of Bryan, Texas. The primary change here is the relocation of the entry to the longer dimension of the building. This is a simple change but one that creates a totally different appearance and function, effecting (or effected by) the orientation of the building on the property.
This is a significant departure from the earlier designs, with classical styling and a dormered dome. The first example of this style was the 1909 Travis Street Methodist Church of Sherman, Texas. This edifice was just a couple blocks from an earlier JEF church and that was a possible factor in JEF's stylistic departure.
In the floor plan itself, this is again a variation of the earlier designs. The departure here is in the exterior elements. The first example of this style was the extant Methodist Church in Anson, Texas. The exterior has cleaner, simpler lines. The ornate Flandersian tower is gone, in favor of a more unified appearance. Later exteriors ranged to Spanish Eclectic.
This first style is exemplified by the extant 1899 Central Christian Church of Greenville, Texas. The main design elements include the three towers - the central dominant tower flanked on opposing corners by lesser towers. Gabled walls between the pairs of towers displayed large decorative windows. The roof is hipped and the entry is on the shorter dimension of the building..
1898ca, Dallas, TX, Central Presbyterian
1899, Greenville, TX, First Christian
1900, Terrell, TX, First Methodist
1901, McKinney, TX, Methodist
1901. Clarksville, TX, McKenzie Memorial Methodist
1903, Farmersville, TX, Methodist
1903, Bryan, TX, Bryan Methodist
1903ca, Vernon, TX, Methodist
1904, Dallas, TX, Trinity Methodist
1904, Athens, TX, Methodist
1904, Ft. Worth, TX, Missouri Avenue Methodist
1904, Royse City, TX, Methodist
1905, Chickasha, OK, Methodist
1905, Pittsburg, TX, Methodist
1905ca, Cleburne, TX, Methodist
1905, Pittsburg, TX, First Baptist
1905, Sherman, TX, Central Christian
1906, San Angelo, TX, Methodist
1907, Dallas, TX, Tabernacle Methodist
1908ca, Dallas, TX, Ervay Street Methodist
1909, Anson, TX, Methodist
1909, Sherman, TX, Travis Street Methodist
1909, Dallas, TX, Mallalieu Methodist
1909, Mangum, OK. First Methodist
1910, Marlin, TX, Methodist
1910, Wichita Falls, TX, Methodist
1910, Stamford, TX, St. John's Methodist
1910, Pilot Point, TX, Methodist
1908, Rosebud, TX, Methodist
1910, Vernon, TX, Methodist
1911, Honey Grove, TX, McKenzie Methodist
1911, Hubbard, TX, Methodist
1912, Abilene, TX, Methodist
1912, Corpus Christi, TX, Methodist
1912, Fulton, MO, First Christian
Railroads opened large markets for products of this type and spurred the growth of large manufacturers such as the Staffod Company. More importantly, they made it possible for almost any small town church to have access to quality furnishings at prices they could afford to pay. As the county seats of emerging counties in the late 1800's boasted of tall courthouse towers, many towns and cities in the early 1900's sent church towers soaring into the air. The church became the dominant structure in many of these small towns as their steeples pierced the horizons. Many of these buildings survive today and it is undoubtedly through his churches that JEF made the greatest impact on the lives of his clients and on the lives of those that followed them.
There were a number of companies such as the E.F.Stafford Manufacturing Company of Chicago who operated an enormous manufacturing facility that produced furnishings for many types of buildings. For Texans there were more local companies such as the C.H.Myers & Co. of Houston. Church windows were produced by companies such as the Dallas Art Glass Company as well as manufacturers in St. Louis and other mid-western cities. Some churches chose to import their windows from Europe.
According to Jennings and Gottfried, several essays written in the first two decades of the century seemed to agree on only one thing - a rejection of the Akron Plan, arguing for separate areas for worshiping and teaching. However none of the other plans addressed the need for a teaching space, leaving that to be accommodate in a separate building. The Akron Plan met the needs of the people that used it. In the construction of new churches, the resources of congregations differed. Many chose to participate in the details of their building project to offset costs. Some actually performed some of the construction work. Others superintended the construction and entered into contracts with suppliers for lumber, roofing, and other construction materials as well as equipment and labor for lighting, plumbing, and heating. Two main elements of the building were almost always selected by the building committee - the windows and the furnishing - the pews, alter and pulpit.
The semi-circular arrangement of the pews was also a feature of the Akron Plan. - Photos by Jim Willis
THE EXTANT FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH OF MARLIN provides an excellent example of JEF's use of the Akron Plan. Note the opening where a moveable wall can divide the sanctuary space or join it as in this photograph..
Because of the breadth of material in this chapter, there are three pages - the one you are reading now, a page covering the churches built from 1898 through 1906, and a page covering the churches built between 1907 and 1912. The names of the churches on each page are listed below:
THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF LAMPASAS was built in 1886 on the corner of Key Avenue and Third Street.
Illustration courtesy of Lampasas Dispatch-Record
Just over one-third of JEF's churches (46 of "over 125"), located in more than thirty-five cities or towns, are included in this chapter. There are other churches that are built in the same styles or that have been suggested as JEF churches, but lack adequate documentation to include now. such as:
Methodist Episcopal Church South of Groesbeck
Methodist Episcopal Church South of Denton
First Baptist Church of Winnsboro
Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church South of Greenville
The African-American members of the Methodist Episcopal Church formed the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, know as C.M.E. churches. Also created was the African Methodist Episcopal Church, know as A.M.E. churches. In the study of JEF's works, his style is sometimes found in smaller, wood framed A.M.E. and C.M.E. churches. None of these have been confirmed to be designed by Flanders but that possibility remains. One of the most likely candidates is the extant Bethel A.M.E. Church of Corsicana built in the Akron plan in 1911.
The next known church followed in 1886 in Lampasas, Texas and was a traditional small church design. It was an "L" shaped floor plan with an inset tower that housed the entry to the building. Almost a dozen years passed before his next church - the Central Presbyterian Church (see next page), known then as First Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Dallas. This building contained many of the elements JEF used in church designs that followed in the next two decades. The building had a hipped roof and a predominant entry tower flanked on both sides by lesser towers that also contained entries. The following year, 1899, the Central Christian Church of Greenville, Texas made the final transition into the style that can be uniquely identified as Flanders'.
The second confirmed church design was done in 1882 and the plan was for the First Presbyterian Church of Dallas. This was an exuberant Victorian edifice that included the nucleus of what was to become a signature characteristic in many of his later churches - the 'Flandersian tower.
THE EXTANT ST. JAMES EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF TEXARKANA was built in 1878
Photo by Lewis Dixon, Jr.. used courtesy of St. James Episcopal Church