First Baptist Congregational Church

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First Baptist Congregational Church
Union Park Congregational Church Sign.jpg
Building designation for the church
Basic information
Location Chicago, United States
Status Active
Leadership Rev. George W. Daniels, Senior Pastor
Architectural description
Architect(s) Gurdon P. Randall
Architectural style Gothic
Completed 1869
Spire(s) 2

First Baptist Congregational Church is a Baptist & United Church of Christ congregation now located at the former Union Park Congregational Church and Carpenter Chapel, a Chicago Landmark at 60 N. Ashland Blvd. in Chicago, Illinois, USA. The church was designed by architect Gurdon P. Randall and built between 1869 and 1871. The First Congregational Church, founded in 1851, merged with Union Park Congregational in 1910. Mozart Baptist mergered with First Congregational in 1970 and changed its name to the First Congregational Baptist Church of Chicago. After a dispute in 1971, the two congregations split, and First Congregational sought to maintain the former name. It was then decided that the name be changed to the First Baptist Congregational Church of Chicago, for legal reasons. The congregation's official mailing address is 1613 W. Washington Blvd.

The church was built in what was then a very fashionable neighborhood of Chicago. Part of the church's historical significance lies in the fact that after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, several essential civic functions were temporarily relocated to the church—the Mayor's Office, the City Council, and the General Relief Committee. Many people who had been displaced because their homes had burned camped out in nearby Union Park.

The Lemont limestone building, which has a slate roof, is nearly square in plan except for shallow transepts barely a few feet deep at the north and south sides. The interior was designed by Randall in amphitheater style, with a nod to the sermon-centered Congregational service. Randall is often credited with originating this seating design, which has been widely imitated over the years.[1] Immediately adjacent to the south is the smaller Carpenter Chapel, a long rectangular space with a simpler plastered and wood-trimmed interior; its exterior is also of Lemont limestone and is built in a similar style.[2] The Carpenter Chapel's spire, the church's thin south spire, and the steeple together form a line of increasing height from left to right, visually joining the two structures. Part of the main church building's roof and interior were severely damaged in the February 2, 2011 blizzard.[3]

The church is highlighted in many books on church architecture, among them, "Chicago Churches: A Photographic Essay" by Elizabeth Johnson (Uppercase Books Inc, 1999) as well as "Chicago Churches and Synagogues: An Architectural Pilgrimage" by George A. Lane, SJ and Algimantas Kezys, SJ (Loyola Press, 1982). The building is an Illinois Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designated a Chicago Landmark on January 21, 1982.[4]


  1. ^ Lane, George A. and Kezys, Algimantas, "Chicago Churches and Synagogues: An Architectural Pilgrimage," Loyola Press, Chicago: 1982, pp. 30-31.
  2. ^ "First Baptist Congregational Church - Physical Description". 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-13. 
  3. ^ Rhodes, Dawn. "Blizzard damage to historic church put at $1M". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2011-11-13. 
  4. ^ "First Baptist Congregational Church". City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development, Landmarks Division. 2003. Retrieved 2007-06-26. 

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