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)
Website http://www.fbcc-chicago.net/
Architectural description
Architect(s) Gurdon P. Randall
Architectural style Gothic
Completed 1871
Specifications
Capacity 1800
Spire(s) 2

First Baptist Congregational Church is a United Church of Christ and Baptist congregation currently located at 60 N. Ashland Blvd. in Chicago, Illinois, USA. The church building is an Illinois Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building was designed by architect Gurdon P. Randall for the Union Park Congregational Church, founded in 1860, and was built between 1869 and 1871. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the Mayor's Office, City Council, and General Relief Committee of Chicago were temporarily headquartered in the church. In 1910, the building of nearby First Congregational Church (founded in 1851) burnt down. Union Park Congregational then merged with First Congregational to form (New) First Congregational Church. Two other congregations would eventually merged into the new First Congregational Church: Leavitt Street Congregational Church (founded in 1868) in 1917 and Bethany Congregational Church in the 1920s.

In the 1950s, the neighborhood surrounding the First Congregational Church building began suffering from white flight and became majority Hispanic. In 1961, an associate pastor for Hispanic outreach was hired and a Spanish-speaking church services were begun. As the decade went on, the congregation became increasingly involved in political social justice matters.

On August 6, 1944, the Mozart Baptist Church was founded at 114 N. Mozart Street in Chicago. In 1951, the growing congregation moved to a building at 2900 W. Adams Street. In 1970, the majority-black Mozart Baptist merged with First Congregational to form First Congregational Baptist Church. The merged congregation continued to meet in the First Congregational building. However, as the racial makeup of the neighborhood surrounding the church became more black and less Hispanic, First Congregational Church reformed and moved to the majority-Hispanic Humboldt Park neighborhood in 1976. After a legal dispute, the remaining church members, most of whom were African-American Baptists, changed the name of the church to First Baptist Congregational Church of Chicago, retaining their membership in both Baptist associations and the United Church of Christ. The congregation's official mailing address is 1613 W. Washington Blvd.

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]

Notes[edit]

  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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