The mother church for Christian Scientists all over the world is in Boston and it is there that this religion showcases its appreciation for art and architecture. The 14.5-acre site in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood was designed in the 1960s by the firm I.M. Pei & Partners.
It includes a large administration building, a colonnade, the Mary Baker Library with its Mapparium (a globe of the world that you can walk through) and a huge reflecting pool and fountain. Christian Scientists came from many different backgrounds and religious denominations and they applied church styles they were familiar with to the design of this church, according to Skyler Sackett, a tour guide at the church.
Here are some details about the original building and the church extension, completed in 1906.
The Mother Church Original Edifice
The building was constructed using New Hampshire granite and is known for sporting the Romanesque style that was popular back in the late 19th century. Hand-made Italian marble mosaics are found on the flooring and parts of the walls.
The stained glass windows were created by Phipps and Slocum American Glass Company in 1894. The style of the glass is supposed to mimic John La Farge and Louis Comfort Tiffany that was around that era.
The opalescent glass is supposed to resemble mother-of-pearl or an opal. The textures on the glass that can be seen on the clothes, is what is called drapery glass, where glass is heated and cooled to a point before using hands to create the dimensions and textures on it.
Like many other churches that feature stained glass, the pictures depict different bible scenes.
The Mother Church Extension
The new edition to the original church which is called the Extension seats about 3,000 people, compared to 900 in the original church. The new edition is made out of Indiana limestone and showcases styles from the Byzantine and Renaissance era. The Byzantine dome, which is 90-feet to 108-feet-tall, towers inside the center of the building
Quotations from The King James Bible and Mary Baker Eddy can be found around the church, with the corners of each wall inside the main service area all hand carved. It’s hard to miss the large organ that is found at the center of the church. Being one the largest in the country, it has 233 ranks and 13,290 with 377 visible pipes.
The Church and Architecture
The architect who designed the church is Solan Spencer Beman. He made it and since the mother church was done by him other Christian science churches reached out to have him as their architect. The Church has always appreciated the architecture and considered it an important part of the institution.
“The whole idea of the services and the music is an opportunity for the congregation. You’ll go to some churches and you’ll see long lines or aisles for ceremonies. There aren’t really ceremonies in Christian Science, it’s all about a space where people can come together and worship together, pray together and listen to the word of the bible together,” said Sackett.
The church also bought the land next door for the extension round for more room since they couldn’t fit the expanding need of the congregation in the old church building.
(Photos by Vishakha Mathur| Written by Corallys Plasencia| Edited by Ivy Liu)