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First Christian Church

Columbus, Indiana
County of Bartholomew.
National Register Number: 01000067
Resource type: Building.
Property type: Religious facility. The threat level was Satisfactory in
Certified Local Government: NO

Statement of Significance (as of designation - January 3, 2001):
First Christian Church (1941) is one of the first Modern religious buildings in America and the first Modern building to be constructed in Columbus. Nationally recognized at the time of its construction, it had an impact on church design in the post-World War II era. First Christian Church was one of two churches designed by the firm of Saarinen and Saarinen, consisting of Eliel Saarinen and his son Eero. Saarinen answered questions about the suitability of a Modern design for a religious building by saying: "Our forefathers and we ourselves have been using the dead styles of alien cultures. We have combined them in thousands of different ways until the last drop of expressiveness has been squeezed out." Many believe that First Christian Church is a synthesis of the father’s and son’s work, and of their independent approaches: Eliel’s focus on materials, craft, and relationship of the building to the user; and Eero’s Modern aesthetic. In 1941, Time Magazine described the building as, "the costliest modern church in the world, planned by Europe’s most famous modern architect and his son." Newsweek, in 1942, noted, "In style, the new Tabernacle is utterly unlike the seventeen other churches in Columbus or, for that matter, in almost any other city in the world."

The building is in good condition as far as we know.

Courtyard brick was repointed in most areas. New handicapped access ramp added to Franklin Street entrance. And there was new landscaping on Fourth Street side.

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