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St George’s Episcopal Church
a good onion

Much as I admire the superstars of architecture wished upon us by social media, I’d like to make a plea for a little ordinariness in building.

Consider this church in Lake Landing, North Carolina, for example. It’s sheltered in the same gable-roofed box shape that once housed ancient Greek temples and now houses tobacco barns. Ordinary. But the little church gains some gravitas from a cemetery, two ancient cedar trees nearby, and the fact that it has weathered winds whistling over Lake Mattamuskeet for over 150 years.

A church like this can creep into your affections in a way that glitz and steel cannot.

After all, buildings can be friends. And the ordinariness of sunlight on a church porch or a breakfast table happens more often than stardom.

Most of the buildings I find memorable were done not for fame but because they seemed the right thing to do. It’s as though their designers were gardeners. A gardener doesn’t need to win an award with his onion to feel good. He knows when he’s got a good onion.