St. Stephen's is the only church built by Charles Bulfinch that still remains today. It was built between the years 1802 and 1804 and was designed in the Federal Style. Most of Bulfinch's ideas for the architectural structure of St. Stephen's were taken while he was in Italy looking at the churches that were built during the Renaissance.
St. Stephen's is located on Hanover Street in the North End. Interestingly, it was originally sold for $26,570. It was originally called the New North Church, but was renamed St. Stephen's Church in 1862 when it was sold to the Roman Catholics by the Unitarians. At this time, the weathervane and spire over the cupula were removed. Eight years later, in 1870, the church was literally moved back sixteen feet and raised by over six feet to make room for the widened Hanover Street. In 1929, St. Stephen's was damaged by a fire, but was restored by Charles Bulfinch, the original architect's great-grandson. Finally, a major restoration project was done between 1964 and 1965 by Richard Cardinal Cushing. At this time the church was restored to its original level and finishing what we see today.
Charles Bulfinch created designs for a number of buildings in the late 1700's and early 1800's in the Federal Style which were similar in design to St. Stephen's. Faneuil Hall as well as all three of the Harrison Gray Otis houses share common architectural characteristics which are similar to St. Stephen's in a number of ways. First, the church was built with two-stories of pilasters, two on each side of the entrance way. Pilasters are also found on Faneuil Hall and the second Harrison Gray Otis House. In addition, the church displays a recessed fan window above the entrance. The entrance itself is also recessed and centered. Symmetrical design is a theme of the Federal Style which is used by Bulfinch throughout much of his work. Symmetry helps to portray a sense of balance, order, and organization of a structure. Another feature of St. Stephen's which is similar to a feature in the second Harrison Gray Otis House is the entablature connecting the two pilasters at each side of the building. In both cases, this creates a frame like effect of the entrance. St. Stephen's also has balusters and a balustrade on top of the entablature of the pilasters. The balustrade was very common throughout the Federal Period. Bulfinch also used it in both the second and third Harrison Gray Otis Houses. On the top of the structure is a tower supporting an octagonal cupula. The cupula is designed in structure similar to churches done by the English architect James Gibbs.
The windows of the building are typical of the Federal style. Similar to Faneuil Hall, the windows are double hung sash windows, fan windows, or arched windows. Many of the windows are recessed, particularly the...