Is St. Phillips Church the most beautiful church in America? My (short) answer is yes, so you may just take my word for it and move on.
For those choosing to read on . . . It’s more than just the form of the building, which is perfect. It’s more than the monumental scale, where the three porticos feel enormous but, like the trunks of large trees, comfortable, certainly they’re not over-scaled. When you’re there, there’s no question that they would be wrong if they were larger (or smaller). There’s not much in the way of detail- it’s just very simple unadorned Doric architecture. The color of the stucco is wonderful, a mottled gold that glows when the evening sun hits it, but that’s not enough. The building is perpendicular to a relatively minor street, and this is where the magic starts to happen, it’s pulled forward so that the street wraps around it, allowing it to be seen from Market Street and Broad Street in the distance.
It’s the combination of all of those, scale, proportion, detail, color and placement that become greater than the sum of it’s parts. If you’re ever in Charleston . . .