Photo-Essay Review 

Wooden Churches: A Celebration
Introduction by Rick Bragg
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1999
ISBN: 1-56512-233-X


Algonquin has compiled images of American wooden churches and colored the black and white photographs with the words of American author, many of them southern-born.   

Renowned photographers Walker Evans, Tom Rankin, Marion Post Wolcott are among those behind the camera’s eye in this book.  Serene scenes of silent churches set a reflective mood.  Others capture the life’s blood of the church body such as a river baptism and dinner on the grounds. 

The emotions these photographs inspire are strengthened by the passages selected to accompany them.  A scene of men building a North Carolina church possibly in the early 1900’s, is brought to life with Eudora Welty’s reflection of her great grandfather who built the church he preached inside.  The moment of being “born again” captured by Lee Smith in Black Mountain Breakdown is used with images of a wedding ceremony.   

Rick Bragg’s introduction illustrates the richness of religious traditions to southern culture.  Wooden Churches will awaken childhood memories and family stories of Sundays past.


Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews

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