“Christian Science Architecture in the American City: The Triumph of the Classical Style”
Ivey, Paul Eli. “Christian Science Architecture in the American City: The Triumph of the Classical Style,” Pages 108-132 in Faith in the Market: Religion and the Rise of Urban Commercial Culture. Edited by John M. Giggie and Diane Winston. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002.
Ivey’s chapter on Christian Science architecture is positioned within the context of the book’s overall goal to explore “the interplay of religion, commercial culture, and urbanization in North American cities since the 1880s” (1). Ivey focuses on spiritual principles expressed in the Christian Science movement’s architectural expression. In the early years, the ambiguity of its relation to history and public thought manifested itself in a debate among Christian Scientists between Gothic and classical styles. Ivey observes that “regardless of their opinions, what is striking about these debates was the idea that there should be a ‘Christian Science architecture’” (119). The classical style “represented a restoration of a perfected architecture associated with the time of primitive Christianity and aligned “with broader modern reform movements supported by business” (118). A unique contribution is Ivey’s analysis of the relationship between American businessmen in big cities and the evolution of the movement and its architecture. Businessmen “viewed themselves as part of a moral revolution that would improve their personal lives and business profits” (113). A lawyer commented, “One of the greatest reforms worked by Christian Science [is] it has unclasped the Bible …. Now it’s my business guide” (115, quoting Johnston, “Christian Science in New York,” 166).
See also annotation: