Almost every summer colony in Maine contains an Episcopal summer chapel, often designed by one of the great architects of the day. One of my favorites is the Church of the Redeemer in Sorrento, donated by an early summer resident, Eva Smith Cochran. Mrs. Cochran was a daughter of Alexander Smith, the carpet king of Yonkers New York, who was one of the richest men of his day.
Legend has it that Mrs. Smith instructed the architects, Rotch & Tilden, to model the design after a wooden chapel she had seen in Sweden, and indeed it does not follow the usual veddy English stone and half timber design of many Maine summer chapels Whatever their inspiration, the architects turned out a building of high design integrity, which delights at every turn. The chapel was ready for the season of 1890. The charming belfry, connected by a sinuous covered walkway, was added a few years later. The removal of one of the twin porches on either side of the front has slightly compromised the original design, but the building retains its 19th century color scheme of brown and buff, and the wooded site is free of parking lots and paving, encouraging the faithful to walk to church.
|The chapel soon after completion. Mrs. Smith's summer cottage in background.|
|The rectory, added a few years later, was designed and built by a local carpenter.|
One good church deserves another, and in 1896 Mrs. Cochran donated St. Joseph's Episcopal Church for the African American population of Fayetteville North Carolina.
Brief research indicates that Mrs. Cochran was a thoughtful and generous philanthropist.. She survived blindness by lightening, was the financial savior of the Philipse Manor Hall in Yonkers, an iconic early preservation effort, and in her will left stipends to many of the workers in her family's factories. She also had the obligatory yachtsman playboy son, Alexander Smith Cochran. He was very briefly the third husband of Polish Opera singer Ganna Walska, whose $3,000,000 (that's 1922 dollars, kids) divorce settlement later helped fund her famous Lotusland estate in Montecito---very far in every way from her brief mother-in-law's Anglican chapel on the coast of Maine
|Mme. Ganna Walska d'Eingorn Fraenkel Cochran McCormick Matthews Bernard at home at Lotusland, Montecito, CA|