North Christian Church
850 Tipton Lane, Columbus
The Spirit is Willing
Even internationally known landmarks designed by famous architects can get in trouble. North Christian Church, one of seven National Historic Landmarks in the Modernist mecca of Columbus, suffers a fate similar to many historic houses of worship—a dwindling congregation that can’t support the repair and maintenance of a facility that far exceeds its space needs.
Modernist architect Eero Saarinen (1910-1961) viewed most post-World War II churches as ordinary structures that lacked the grandeur and prominence achieved by the cathedrals of earlier times. He aimed higher, seeking to inspire worshippers inside as well as viewers from afar with his revolutionary design, with a hexagonal sanctuary on a raised berm topped by a sky-piercing 192-foot spire.
Saarinen died a few years before the construction was completed in 1964. Dan Kiley (1912-2004), nearly as internationally famous in landscape design as Saarinen is in architecture, lent his Modernist touch to the 13.5-acre grounds, placing four parking courts amid meadows and woods, with magnolias, dogwoods and flowering plants.
National Historic Landmark status is an honor, but it brings no money to help support the site. The place needs repair that the congregation can’t begin to afford and faces a steep decline. A participant in Indiana Landmarks’ Sacred Places program, the church hopes space sharing may be a saving solution.
Saving threatened buildings takes teamwork. You can be a part of that team. Reach out to local leaders. Let them know these buildings are important to you. And support state and local preservation groups.