Prayers in Stone: Christian Science Architecture in the United States, 1894–1930
Ivey, Paul Eli. Prayers in Stone: Christian Science Architecture in the United States, 1894–1930. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999.
The monumental ‘bank-style’ urban church buildings associated with Christian Science are the subject of Ivey’s extensive, stand-alone architectural study. He features Chicago architect Solon Beman as the taproot of this bright, modernized, comfortable, yet neo-classical style that was so prominent in the Christian Science building boom during the first three decades of the 20th century. Ivey shows how these edifices, although they seem grandiose today, were progressive for their times. However, Ivey also sees an unmistakable self-consciousness about this church building movement, a push to be perceived publicly as prominent, legitimate and literally profitable to the worshiper. His characterization of these church builders is not always flattering, but not unreasonable. His treatment of Mary Baker Eddy and Christian Science teachings is fairly balanced. However, the question arises as to whether the church buildings appropriately represented Eddy’s church and teachings. As Ivey clarifies, Eddy herself encouraged contemporary Christian imagery, but that directive sometimes seemed to sacrifice the church’s goal to ‘reinstate primitive Christianity.’ The churches Ivey examines were exclusively the socially progressive model. Bernard Maybeck’s Berkeley Christian Science church, now a National Landmark, asserted both the modern and primitive. One could argue that just such a timeless synthesis lies at the heart of Eddy’s teaching.
ISBN-13 (Hardcover): 978-0252024450