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A Salute to `Sacred Trusts'

`TODAY churches mark the land as the most prominent, most highly ornamented, and most strategically sited buildings in our communities,'' writes A. Robert Jaeger, who, with Randall Cotton, produced the traveling exhibition ``Sacred Trusts.'' In Detroit through Saturday, it is part of a symposium titled ``Sacred Trusts II, Money, Materials & Management.'' The event, produced for the Philadelphia Historic Preservation Corporation, celebrates, through essay and photographs, America's heritage of historic worship places during National Historic Preservation Week.

In addition to their high visibility, churches ``contribute stability and strength to our neighborhoods, dignity and variety to streetscapes, and tangibility to the social, cultural, and religious values they represent,'' Mr. Jaeger continues.

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``[They] are treasure houses of rich symbolism, magnificent artisanry, and soaring spaces. They are, when all is said and done, America's most sacred trust.''

The producers of the ``Sacred Trusts'' exhibition explain that the shifting patterns of immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries produced a rich variety of architectural styles for churches and synagogues. These structures, they say, represent the cultures, aspirations, beliefs, and artistry of America's many peoples.

Styles shown include traditional Gothic, Federal and Greek Revival, Italianate and Romanesque. The producers suspect, however, that the most beloved church types may be the oldest two - the white steepled churches of the East Coast and the Spanish mission churches of the West.

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