Summer Sights: Sharon Temple

Summer's here and the time is right for hopping on the train, the bike or biodiesel powered smart car to see the sights. We thought it might be useful to look at some of the architectural highlights that are open to those interested in TreeHugger type design; some green, some modern, some prefab. Let's start with one close to this writer, the Sharon Temple, just north of Toronto, an early demonstration of prefabrication.

David Willson came to Canada in 1801 and joined the Quakers, but fell out with them over the use of music, and left to found the Children of Peace in the village of Hope. They were successful farmers and became well known for their silver band. Willson believed that the end of days would come when Christian and Jews were reconciled, and developed his theology as a mix of both. in 1825 he started building the Temple, based on the descriptions of the New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation; the count of windows, columns, proportions and the four equal sides welcoming from all directions are direct interpretations of the bible.

The book says that music would play during the reconstruction of the Temple, but Church members were farmers and construction would take a long time if done conventionally. Willson had farmers prefabricate each of the wall panels that make up the exterior of the Temple at their farms, and then at one time, with the silver band playing, all of the panels were brought to the site and installed, perhaps making the Sharon Temple in 1830 the first consciously prefabricated building. That it could also be so perfectly proportioned and stunningly beautiful is even more remarkable.

The Children of Peace fell apart after the death of David Willson and the building fell into disrepair. In the 1970's the local historical society started restorations; in the 80's there was a summer concert series. The acoustics in the Temple are stunning, although one does not hear it the way one did in Willson's day, when the band would climb Jacob's ladder into the upper section. This year there is a concert series that started June 3, with four more concerts to July 8. ::Sharon Temple.:: Map here

Tags: Ontario

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