The First Church of Christ, Scientist

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Coordinates: 42°20′40″N 71°05′06″W / 42.34443°N 71.084872°W / 42.34443; -71.084872

The domed Mother Church Extension (1904-1906), The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. The Brutalist high-rise at right is the 26-story 177 Huntington Avenue, the former Christian Science Administration Building (1973).

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts in the United States is the Mother Church and administrative headquarters of the Christian Science Church, and is located in the Christian Science Plaza in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston. Surrounding a plaza and built over many years beginning in 1894, it consists of seven structures: the Original Mother Church, Mother Church Extension, Christian Science Publishing House, Mary Baker Eddy Library, 177 Huntington Avenue (former Administration Building), 101 Belvidere (former Church Colonnade Building), and Reflection Hall, formerly the Sunday School Building.[1]

The Original Mother Church edifice, designed by Franklin I. Welch, was built in 1894, eight years after the first Christian Science Church in the world was built in Oconto, Wisconsin.[2][3][4][5] Although fairly large for the time, this Romanesque Revival stone structure is often overlooked by casual visitors as it is dwarfed by the much larger domed Mother Church Extension. Designed to fit on an odd kite-shaped lot, it features an octagonal auditorium that seats 1100 people and a massive 126-foot (38 m) steeple. It is built of granite from New Hampshire, Mary Baker Eddy's home state.[6]

The original church, built in 1894, before the construction of the larger surrounding structures

Added in 1904-1906, the Mother Church Extension was originally designed by architect Charles Brigham, but substantially modified by S.S. Beman when he took over construction in 1905 as a result of Brigham's illness. In particular, Beman minimized the Ottoman and Byzantine elements, bringing the domed structure into line with the Classical architectural style that Beman favored as most appropriate for Christian Science churches.[7] It boasts one of the world's largest pipe organs, built in 1952 by the Aeolian-Skinner Company of Boston.

The Mary Baker Eddy Library is housed on the Plaza in an 11-story structure originally built for The Christian Science Publishing Society. Constructed between 1932 and 1934, the neoclassical style building with its Mapparium has become an historic landmark in Boston’s Back Bay. Restoration of the Library’s 81,000-square foot portion of the building began in 1998, and the final renovation and additional construction were completed in 2002.

Designed in the 1960s by the firm of noted architect I.M. Pei, the 14-acre (57,000 m2) Christian Science Plaza along Huntington Avenue includes a large administration building, a colonnade, a reflecting pool, Reflection Hall, and fountain that together make it one of Boston's most visually recognizable sites and a popular tourist attraction.[8]

In accord with the Manual of The Mother Church, the title of the Mother Church is "The First Church of Christ, Scientist," and while its branch churches may call themselves, "First Church of Christ, Scientist," or "Second Church of Christ, Scientist," and so on, they are prohibited from using "The" in front of their names. Only The Mother Church can do so.[9]

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Notes

  1. ^ "Christian Science Plaza". christianscience.com. Boston: The First Church of Christ, Scientist. Retrieved September 1, 2011. 
  2. ^ Nichols, Diane et al. No date. West Main Street Historic District Oconto, Wisconsin (brochure). Oconto, WI: Oconto County Historical Society, p. 6.
  3. ^ Hall, George E. 2009. A History of Oconto. 2nd ed., edited by Duane Ebert and Pamela Ann Loberger. Oconto, WI: Oconto County Historical Society, p. 130.
  4. ^ Chiat, Marilyn Joyce Segal. 1997. America's Religious Architecture: Sacred Places for Every Community. New York: John Wiley, p. 133.
  5. ^ Cather, Willa & Georgine Milmine. 1909. The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy and the History of Christian Science. New York: Doubleday, p. 364.
  6. ^ Ivey, Paul Eli (1999). Prayers in Stone: Christian Science Architecture in the United States, 1894-1930. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press. pp. 50–52. ISBN 978-0-252-02445-0. 
  7. ^ Ivey, Paul Eli (1999). Prayers in Stone: Christian Science Architecture in the United States, 1894-1930. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press. pp. 71–75, 119, and 122. ISBN 978-0-252-02445-0. 
  8. ^ Palmer, Thomas C. Jr. (October 17, 2006). "Church looking to redevelop". The Boston Globe. Boston. 
  9. ^ Eddy, Mary Baker (1910). "The Manual of The Mother Church". Boston. p. 70 (p. 25 pdf). ISBN 978-0-930227-22-7. "'The First Church of Christ, Scientist,' is the legal title of The Mother Church. Branch churches of The Mother Church may take the title of First Church of Christ, Scientist; Second Church of Christ, Scientist; and so on, where more than one church is established in the same place; but the article 'The' must not be used before titles of branch churches, nor written on applications for membership in naming such churches." 

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