Preservation

Touring the former Second Church of Christ, Scientist, in Indianapolis

First Church of Christ, Scientist

It was built on the Old Northside of Indianapolis in 1912 to serve as Second Church of Christ, Scientist. In 1968, the Christian Scientists moved out and a Baptist congregation moved in for about 10 years before yielding to Jehovah’s Witnesses. And then this year the Witnesses sold this striking, even imposing building to a large multi-site Christian Church from central Indiana, which is now preparing to use it as its Downtown campus.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

This is the same large multi-site Christian Church where Margaret is Director of Facilities. She had been issued a key. We went in to look about.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

The place was immaculate and looked freshly painted. Carpets, seats, and other wear items all looked like new. Jehovah’s Witnesses took very good care of the property. So good that Margaret’s church will have to do very little to this space to begin to worship here.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

The Witnesses left quite a bit behind, far more than just these knick-knacks on the foyer fireplaces. The lower level is full of tables and chairs, all set up and ready for a large crowd to come for a meal. Closets are full of cleaning supplies, including a dozen or so vacuum cleaners. A mixing board was left in the sound booth. And there are three furnished apartments in this building, with bedrooms and kitchens and living rooms. The kitchen drawers are full of cookware and tableware!

First Church of Christ, Scientist

Remember the split-level homes so popular in the 1970s? Well, this is a split-level church. You go up a half level into the auditorium or down a half level into the fellowship area.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

This is a formal structure, inside and out, befitting a building built in the neoclassical revival style. It was designed by Spencer Solon Beman, an architect from Chicago.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

What I liked most about the auditorium is how well lit it was on this bright day. We didn’t turn on a light anywhere.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

Most of the rest of the building was unremarkable, so I didn’t photograph much beyond the foyer and the auditorium. And being such a clean, classical design, there weren’t many details to focus on. But I did capture this light in the balcony.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

And I photographed this window, as this pattern was a theme in all of the windows visible from the street and in many of the external visual details.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

I love how the light diffuses through these windows and leaves a gentle reflection. The foyer and auditorium make pleasing use of natural outside light everywhere. It makes for a lovely worship space.

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18 thoughts on “Touring the former Second Church of Christ, Scientist, in Indianapolis

  1. I have driven past this building many times, so it is a treat to see inside.

    I have always found it funny that for all of the theological disputes various congregations have with one another, they always can shake hands and do business over real estate. From Christian Scientists to Jehovah’s Witnesses to straight-up Christians, this is one ecumenical building. 😃

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  2. Like JP, I too have driven by this building so many times over the years without learning anything about its beginnings or history. Thanks much for sharing your photos and the background research. If I may, I’d like to share some of your facts with my tour guests as we travel through the Old Northside from time to time.

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  3. Bill Bussell says:

    My neighbors belonged to this Church as Christian Scientist. I was driven by it many times on my way to my grandparents HVAC business, and i have driven by numerous times. Thanks so much for sharing the secret wonder inside this building. There was a fire when the Witnesses owned it. I think their membership pitched in to restore it. I expected there might be a pipe organ in the building, but maybe it was destroyed long ago. All a church needs today is a huge drums set and amplifiers to boost the noise level of a geetar praise band. Nothing in a praise band needs to be in tune or create harmony.

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    • My understanding about the Jehovah’s Witnesses is that their music is simple, and that a big organ wouldn’t fit their style. If there was one in there at any time in the past, it was certainly removed. When the new church takes over, they’ll do a rock band in there. I’m with you, it’s not my style – I prefer the old hymns.

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  4. DougD says:

    That’s a sweet building there. Construction as a form of praise.

    Bill, I resemble that remark! You should come up to hear our guitar/piano praise band. I manage to lay the praise down on guitar sometimes, but we also know when to just let the piano do it.. : )

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    • It looks like everyone who’s owned this building must have had enough money to keep it in good shape. The church where worship hasn’t had that kind of cash, and rebuilding shows it.

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    • I am betting that it is a separate piece bolted to the building, covering up a banner integral to the building that says “Second Church of Christ, Scientist.” My guess is that the new owner will remove the Jehovah’s Witnesses banner and put up one of their own.

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