First Christian Church in need of help maintaining landmark

Friends of First Christian Church Architecture turned out last night to learn more about a project to help maintain a Columbus landmark.

The church at 531 Fifth Street opened 75 years ago and was the first of Columbus’ ¬†landmarks of Modern architecture. Church officials say that a recently completed inspection of the church revealed some serious problems endangering portions of the building designed by Eliel Saarinen.

Steve Wiggins, a church elder, said those problems range from stairs with failing limestone, to problems with the clock tower that could be hundreds of thousands to repair. He said the church has to separate the projects that detract from the religious mission, its priority, from those which are purely aesthetic.

The new group aims to help the church with repairs. The first project is to repair the skylight and window that light the back of the sanctuary. The current skylight leaks and is causing water damage to the sanctuary and the church’s organ. Architect Louis Joyner explains what needs to be done:

The project is estimated to cost about $160,000.

Richard McCoy, with Landmark Columbus, helped organize the event. He says it is important to maintain one of the most visible symbols of Columbus. He said the iconic building appears on everything from mugs to T-shirts of the city.

McCoy said the new group will help raise money both locally and nationally through grants and donations to maintain the building.

Funds are being¬†handled through Heritage Fund: Bartholomew County’s Community Foundation. You can look for more information online at