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  • 1 Akron Plan

    The Akron Plan is an architectural design for the Sunday school area in church buildings consisting of a central rotunda (or auditorium) with individual radiating classrooms on one or two levels encircling a podium or lectern. These classrooms are separated from the rotunda by large sliding or folding doors that, when open, expose the classrooms to the central space. The design is named for the city of Akron, Ohio, where it was first used at First Methodist Episcopal Church (1866-70). Developed in response to the needs of the mid-19th-century Sunday school movement, the Akron Plan is a versatile design that allows Sunday school students to participate in elements of the service or receive communal instruction when the doors are open – or undertake individual class instruction when they are closed. This dual function was well suited to the Uniform Lessons system, adopted by Sunday schools throughout the United States and Canada in the latter part of the 19th century. Within this system, each grade and each class in all participating schools followed the same weekly curriculum throughout the year. As in public schools, students were separated into graded classes. Every child, therefore, received a lesson on the same topic each Sunday – but one geared toward their particular age group. The Akron Plan allowed classes to participate together during some portions of the lesson, then efficiently section off during others. The Uniform Lesson system declined in popularity throughout the course of the 20th century and Akron Plan churches, expensive and complicated to design and build, dwindled in number.

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