The First Church of Christ, Scientist

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For other churches called First Church of Christ, Scientist, see First Church of Christ, Scientist (disambiguation).
The First Church of Christ, Scientist
The original Mother church (1894) and behind it the domed Mother Church Extension (1906); on the right, the Colonnade building (1972).
Basic information
Location Christian Science Center, 250 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts[1]
Geographic coordinates 42°20′40″N 71°05′06″W / 42.34443°N 71.084872°W / 42.34443; -71.084872Coordinates: 42°20′40″N 71°05′06″W / 42.34443°N 71.084872°W / 42.34443; -71.084872
Affiliation Christian Science
Status Active
Website The First Church of Christ, Scientist
Architectural description
Architect(s) Franklin I. Welch (1894)
Charles Brigham (1904–1906)
S.S. Beman (1904–1906)
Architectural style Romanesque (original Mother Church); Italian Renaissance (Mother Church Extension)[2]
Founder Mary Baker Eddy
Groundbreaking 1893
Completed 1894 (original Mother Church); 1906 (Mother Church Extension)[2]
Capacity 900 (original Mother Church); 3,000 (Mother Church Extension)[2]
Dome height (outer) 224 ft[2]

The First Church of Christ, Scientist is the Mother Church and administrative headquarters of the Church of Christ, Scientist, also known as the Christian Science church. Christian Science was founded in the 19th century in Lynn, Massachusetts, by Mary Baker Eddy with the publication of her book, Science and Health (1875).

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, is located in the 14.5-acre Christian Science Center in Boston, Massachusetts. The center is owned by the church and contains the Original Mother Church (1894), Mother Church Extension (1906), Christian Science Publishing House, Mary Baker Eddy Library, the Administration Building, Colonnade Building, and Reflection Hall. There is also a reflecting pool and fountain.[2]

In accordance with the Manual of The Mother Church, the Mother Church is the only Christian Science church to use the definite article ("the) in its title. Branch churches are named "First Church of Christ, Scientist," "Second Church of Christ, Scientist," and so on, followed by the name of the city, in the order in which they were built in that city (for example, Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist, Chicago).[n 1]


The Original Mother Church, designed by Franklin I. Welch, was completed in December 1894, eight years after the first Christian Science church, the Church of Christ, Scientist, Oconto, Wisconsin, was built by local women who felt they had been helped by the religion.[4][5][6][7]

Although fairly large for the time, the original church, a Romanesque Revival stone structure, is often overlooked by casual visitors because it is dwarfed by the much larger domed Mother Church Extension. Not only does this church demonstrate extravagant architecture but also displays how unique this structure is, in terms of its accessibility. Designed to fit on an odd kite-shaped lot, the former features an octagonal auditorium that seats 900 and a 126-foot (38 m) steeple. It is built of granite from New Hampshire, Mary Baker Eddy's home state.[8]

Added in 1904–1906, the Mother Church Extension was originally designed by architect Charles Brigham, but was 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.[9] It boasts one of the world's largest pipe organs, built in 1952 by the Aeolian-Skinner Company of Boston. The sanctuary, located on the second floor, seats around 3,000.[2]

Christian Science Center[edit]

Designed in the 1960s by the firm I.M. Pei & Partners (Araldo Cossutta and I. M. Pei, design partners), the 14.5-acre (59,000 m2) Christian Science Center along Huntington Avenue includes a large administration building, a colonnade, a reflecting pool and fountain, and Reflection Hall (the former Sunday School building). The site is one of Boston's most recognizable sites and a popular tourist attraction.[10]

The Mary Baker Eddy Library is housed on the site 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.



  1. ^ Mary Baker Eddy, Manual of the Mother Church: "'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."[3]


  1. ^ "Christian Science Center Complex", Boston Landmarks Commission, Environment Department, City of Boston, 25 January 2011 (hereafter Boston Landmarks Commission 2011), p. 1.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Plaza architecture and grounds". Boston: The First Church of Christ, Scientist. Retrieved 2014-08-28. 
  3. ^ Eddy, Mary Baker (1910). "The Manual of The Mother Church" (PDF). Boston. p. 70 (p. 25 pdf). ISBN 978-0-930227-22-7. 
  4. ^ Nichols, Diane et al. No date. West Main Street Historic District Oconto, Wisconsin (brochure). Oconto, WI: Oconto County Historical Society, p. 6.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Chiat, Marilyn Joyce Segal. 1997. America's Religious Architecture: Sacred Places for Every Community. New York: John Wiley, p. 133.
  7. ^ Cather, Willa & Georgine Milmine. 1909. The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy and the History of Christian Science. New York: Doubleday, p. 364.
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ Palmer, Thomas C. Jr. (October 17, 2006). "Church looking to redevelop". The Boston Globe. 

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