This article investigates the relationship between religious architecture and real estate development in the United States. Using Christian Science churches from the 1920s and the 2020s as case studies, it argues that when churches engage in real estate development, they often use an aesthetic and business strategy termed “material disestablishment” to downplay their religious qualities and engage more effectively with potential business partners and tenants.View Annotation
Resources Discussing Christian Science and Architecture
The resources relating to Christian Science and architecture are listed below. Click “View Annotation” to learn more about the resource.
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This article stems from Lessiter’s talk “Architecture and Design of Six, Purpose-Built, Early, Christian Science Churches in London.” Lessiter asks what images were being presented to the public and what these images say about the people worshipping inside. She examines the churches’ churchly character as well as practical aspects such as the foyer, acoustics, foundation stones, Bible quotes on walls, and the lack of depictions of Eddy’s life.View Annotation
This is a survey of notable Christian Science church architectural styles in America and Europe, and the architects who designed them. Although most of the churches built between 1897 and 1925 emulated a classical style, conveying a rational spirituality, other churches broke from this mold to reflect the more democratic and local traditions of the individual congregations.View Annotation
This Commission is the city of Boston’s report recommending the Christian Science Publishing Society Center complex as a designated landmark. The Report includes a comprehensive description of the physical site and its uses, history of The Mother Church, history and development of the Fenway neighborhood, the Center’s architectural history and significance, property and zoning issues, the assessed value of the property, etc.View Annotation
This exhaustive, groundbreaking book, of special interest to both Christian Scientists and architectural historians, details the conception and building of the original edifice of The Mother Church. It is a treasure trove of primary source materials including 340 illustrations, 20 plates, 400 document reproductions, letters to and from Mary Baker Eddy, biographies and candid discussions of all relevant personnel involved.View Annotation
Ivey chronicles the late 19th century expansion of both New Thought and Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science church in the Midwest: the graduates of Eddy’s Massachusetts Metaphysical College who established institutes in six Midwest cities, the most important early organizers of Christian Science services, the establishment of The Principia as an independent school, and New Thought’s Emma Curtis Hopkins many organizers.View Annotation
This brief article aquaints the reader with the unique architectural structure known as the Mapparium which is part of The Mary Baker Eddy Library located in the Christian Science Publishing Society at The Mother Church headquarters in Boston. The structure is a large globe in which visitors can look at the world inside-out from a glass bridge.View Annotation
Kilde, specializing on the intersection of religion and architecture, describes the original 1895 Christian Science Mother Church edifice, built under Mary Baker Eddy’s close supervision, as very feminine with its stained-glass windows depicting many female biblical figures. Kilde contrasts this with the masculine cavernous Renaissance-style classicism of the Mother Church Extension built in 1906 with its ambience of public majesty.View Annotation
This book grew out of Craig’s 1970s dissertation on the Bernard Maybeck architecture at Principia—a college for Christian Scientists in Illinois. Craig contextualizes Maybeck within late-19th- to mid-20th-century architecture, and highlights the values Maybeck shared with the Principia community, especially seeing the project as the unfoldment of Principle–embodied in the College’s very name.View Annotation
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.” Ivey focuses on spiritual principles expressed in the Christian Science movement’s architectural expression.View Annotation
Ivey outlines the rising popularity of the classical style for the rapidly growing Christian Science church in the late 19th-century Midwest by highlighting Solon Spencer Beman, a well-known Chicago architect. Beman advocated classical architecture because it “put an authoritative public face” on the new movement and also linked spiritual ideals to the built environment.View Annotation
The monumental bank-style church buildings associated with Christian Science are the subject of Ivey’s architectural study. Ivey notes a self-conscious attitude about this church building movement seeking to be perceived as prominent, legitimate and profitable to the worshiper. His treatment of Eddy and Christian Science teachings is balanced, but he questions whether the church buildings appropriately represented Eddy’s church and teachings.View Annotation
This collection of brief articles about 14 people who served the Cause of Christian Science during Mary Baker Eddy’s last decades first appeared in a series from The Christian Science Journal between 1987 and 1991. More than imparting interesting historical information, the articles express these individuals’ vital spirit and conviction that moved them to give their all for a Cause.View Annotation
Ivey documents the growing secularization and diminishing Protestant authority and influence of late 19th-century cities. In the midst of this cultural and architectural transition, the new, rapidly growing Christian Science denomination was establishing itself in Chicago and integrating its “theological sensibilities” and metaphysical theology into the “rational” authority reflected in the city’s more secular Greek classical architecture of government buildings.View Annotation
Armstrong combines two stories, the building of the Original Mother Church (1894), and the much larger Extension of The Mother Church adjacent to the original (1906). Also included are numerous photos and color plates of the windows in the Original and a brief update on the addition of the portico, administration building, and large reflecting pool constructed in 1975.View Annotation
This self-published book by an AIA architect includes 67 Christian Science branch churches in the United States and Canada, and the Chapel at Principia College (a college for Christian Scientists). Alphabetical indexes include the church locations, 11 architectural styles and 44 architects (including 16 churches by the author).View Annotation