First Baptist Church, Boston

First Baptist Church, Boston

The First Baptist Church, designed by architect Henry Hobson Richardson, marked a significant milestone in his career as it was his first major architectural commission and his initial venture into the Romanesque Revival style. When completed in 1872, it quickly became an iconic city landmark, particularly when viewed from Commonwealth Avenue, and remains one of the Boston's most distinctive buildings.

One of the church's notable features is the nearly freestanding bell tower, which Richardson considered to be the most innovative aspect of the structure. The tower is adorned with a decorative frieze and arches, protected by an overhanging roof, while the frieze was crafted in Paris by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the sculptor renowned for creating the Statue of Liberty. The faces depicted in the frieze represent the sacraments – baptism, communion, marriage, and death – and include likenesses of prominent Bostonians from that era, such as Longfellow and Hawthorne, as well as Abraham Lincoln and Bartholdi's own friends, including Garibaldi. The tower's trumpeting angels contributed to the church's nickname, the "Church of the Holy Bean Blowers".

Interestingly, shortly after the completion of the church, the Unitarian congregation that originally commissioned it dissolved due to the financial burden of the building, which remained vacant until 1881 when it was taken over by the First Baptist congregation from the South End. If you plan to visit on a weekday, it's advisable to call ahead, as you may have the opportunity for an informal tour of this architecturally significant and historically rich church.

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First Baptist Church on Map

Sight Name: First Baptist Church
Sight Location: Boston, USA (See walking tours in Boston)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Boston, Massachusetts

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