Preservation Magazine, Fall 2018

Pretty in Pink: Landmark Boston Church Gets a Refresh

photo by: Robert Benson Photography

The artful details, such as this lacy ceiling stenciling restored by John Canning Co., of the 1894 First Church of Christ, Scientist, Original Mother Church have been restored to their former grandeur as part of an ongoing renovation of Boston's Christian Science Plaza.

The Christian Science Plaza, a landmark in the heart of downtown Boston, is undergoing a seven-phase restoration and renovation effort that includes work on The First Church of Christ, Scientist, The Mother Church. In March, the second phase—an interior renovation of the 1894 Romanesque Revival–style Original Mother Church—was completed.

One of Finegold Alexander Architects’ first tasks was to replace the old cotton-wrapped wiring with new electrical wiring that meets modern safety codes. This process required cutting channels in the historic plaster, which subsequently had to be seamlessly repaired and repainted. Afterward, the church’s striking decorative details were restored, including stone mosaics, lace-like stenciled ceiling trim, and gilded quotations adorning the dusty-pink walls.

Future phases of the project will focus on the structure’s domed 1906 addition, The Mother Church Extension. Currently, work by landscape architecture firm CRJA-IBI Group is underway on the scenic plaza surrounding the building, including a new water-management system for the plaza’s famous reflecting pool.

“We want this place to be wonderful for centuries, not just for the first hundred years,” says Jack Train, real estate assets director for the church.

Newly renovated historic interior of the First, Church of Christ, Scientist Original Mother Church building in Boston

photo by: Robert Benson Photography

After channels were cut in the plaster, the walls had to be seamlessly refinished and repainted the pink color the building has worn for years. Stencils were made of the gilded wall quotes and the ceiling trim so the patterns could be re-created.

Rebecca Gale is an Editorial Intern at the National Trust. In her spare time, you can find her visiting local museums, photographing historic buildings, or playing guitar.

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