First Church of Christ, Scientist

1401 Logan Street

First Church of Christ, Scientist

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, is an elegant classical gray stone building located at the corner of Logan and 14th Streets. It was designed by  Ernes t Phillip Varian  of Varian and Sterner in 1904. The building  is an unusually pure example of the  Greek  Revival  style of architecture and  has  detailing that is  reminiscent of ancient Greek temple architecture.

The main entry to the building on Logan Street features a large portico with a triangular pediment atop six massive stone columns with ionic capitals. “The Eternal God Is Thy Refuge” is incised along the frieze below the pediment.  The building is square in plan, with each side stretching 125 feet.  The design is capped with a segmented copper-clad dome. Inside, the layout of the sanctuary is inspired by the design of ancient Greek theaters.  The floor is sloped and the seating is arranged in semicircles focusing on the central podium where the First Reader (a lay minister) reads the scripture passages for the church service.  The sloped floor allows each congregant to have a clear view of the podium.  The sanctuary has individual stadium seats instead of traditional pews. When it was built, the sanctuary had the largest open unobstructed auditorium in the city and held 1,800 people.  Deep steel beams cross the ceiling and are capable of holding the roof up without additional columns.  The architect specified quarter-sawn Russian oak for the wood trim throughout the building.  Russian oak has finer grain and is denser than American red oak.

Classical  architecture became popular  in America  after the 1893 Columbian World’s Exposition in  Chicago,  which launched the City Beautiful movement.  One of the primary concepts of the movement was that beauty had the capacity to inspire human thought and behavior, encouraging civic loyalty and harmonious urban moral order.  The idea of elevating thought through architecture was very appealing to church leaders and many early Christian Science churches were built in classical styles.

The building at 1401 Logan  was built to replace  an earlier  Christian Science church, which  sat  three blocks north  at 1751 Logan.  The original church was built in 1891.  At the end of the 19th century Christian Science was the fastest growing religion in  America.  By 1899,  only  eight  years after the first church was built,  the congregation  realized that  they needed  to build a new church to accommodate their growing numbers.  At the time it was built, the church at 1401 Logan was the largest Christian Science church west of the Mississippi.

The  First Church of Christ, Scientist  was the first large structure in Capitol Hill built of lava stone, which  was produced by the Kerr Quarry in the Arkansas River Valley near  Salida, Colorado.  The cornerstone of  the building is made from granite quarried in New Hampshire, the home  state  of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science church.

References
First Church of Christ Scientist, Denver Fact Sheet.
Grinstead, L. (2002). Molly Brown’s Capitol Hill Neighborhood. Denver, Colorado: Historic Denver, Inc.
Murphy, J. (1995). Geology Tour of Denver’s Buildings and Monuments. Denver, Colorado: Historic Denver,Inc.
Noel, T.and Norgren, B. (1993). Denver: The City Beautiful. Denver, Colorado: Historic Denver, Inc.

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