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Architectural Style

The architectural style of the church building is usually referred to as Vernacular, a style that mixes various building elements and adapts them to a particular country or locality. The church shows medieval and gothic influences, seen in the decorative shapes created with glazed headers next to the tower door, the steep slope of the roof, the narrow tower windows and the steep pedimented gable. Hints of the Georgian style, which was to predominate Philadelphia building for most of the 18th century can be seen in the building's symmetrical composition and in the Flemish bond brick pattern, where stretchers (the lengthwise face of the brick) alternate with headers (the end face of the brick), the headers having been glazed and darkened during firing. The steeply sloping roof is also reminiscent of Swedish churches as is the semicircular wall at the east end of the building (the apse), a feature that had begun to appear in Scandinavian churches in the 11th century.

The church's bell was recast from a bell (dated 1643) that was originally used at Tinicum, the principal settlement of Governor John Printz. After Governor Printz's return to Sweden in 1653, that bell was donated by his daughter to the congregation of Gloria Dei in Tinicum where it was used until 1700 when the new church at Wicaco was completed. The bell was recast and enlarged in 1806 because it was thought to have a disagreeable sound, attributed to too high a proportion of silver in the original bell's composition. There is an inscription on the bell that reads, "I to the living call, and to the grave do summon all."

© 2019 Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Episcopal Church