Out of the same post-war optimism that produced a wealth of superb modernist residential architecture in America during the 1950s & 1960s, came an innovative approach to ecclesiastical design from some of the best know architects of the twentieth century. Transformative new thoughts in the design of religious institutions were taking shape around the county that were aligned with the same forward thinking that gave birth to some of the most notable architectural design of the last one hundred years. Mid-century modern churches represent a break from the traditional design of places of worship to reflect a changing American society that was ready for a shift in the way they lived, gathered, and worshiped. There are plenty of spectacular illustrations of modernist churches around the US that came out of this progressive era that continue to be of architectural and historical significance today.
North Christian Church
Architect: Eero Saarinen
First Christian Church
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1949
Built 1973 (Permission obtained from Wright’s widow)
St. Peters Church
Architect: Ralph Rapson
Rancho Palos Verde, CA
Architect: Lloyd Wright (son of Frank Lloyd Wright)
First Christian Church of Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City, OK
Architect: R. Duane Conner
University Unitarian Church
Architect: Paul Hayden Kirk
Chapel of the Holy Cross
Architects: Anshen & Allen. T
The Abbey of St. Mary and St. Louis
St. Louis, MI
St. Matthew’s Catholic Church
Architects: Morris and Wesolek
For a more in depth look at the Modernist Movement’s impact on religious architecture in Post-War America, check out the book ‘The Suburban Church’ by Gretchen Buggeln.
Gretchen Buggeln shows how architects and suburban congregations joined forces to work out a vision of how modernist churches might reinvigorate Protestant worship and community. The result is a fascinating new perspective on postwar architecture, religion, and society.