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Unitarian Meeting House

Although now Wright’s “country church” now finds itself in an urban setting, it was originally built on a knoll overlooking farmlands.

Built

1947

Client

First Unitarian Society

Address

900 University Bay Drive

Status

National Register of Historic Places. National Historic Landmark. Open to the public with tours available.

Website

Wright, whose parents were among the earliest First Unitarian Society members and who himself had also been a member since 1938, felt personally invested in the project. He envisioned the Unitarian Meeting House as Unitarian in character, where the mass of the building itself would give the impression of unity and aspiration. It was to be constructed of native stone and wood, with a copper roof. Based on a modular diamond shape, the triangular auditorium faces the morning sun, with a soaring ceiling, a glass prow and a place for the minister at its apex. The auditorium, which has an adjoining hearth room, includes collapsible benches and tables of Wright’s design.

The church took five years and nearly four times the estimated budged of $60,000 to complete. Congregation members devoted countless weekends as construction volunteers, transporting more than 1,000 tons of limestone to the site from a quarry thirty miles away. For his part, Wright gave two lectures to raise funds, accepting only a minimal fee and volunteering the help of his apprentices. The Taliesin Associated Architects designed two later additions: the Religious Education Wing in 1964 and the Lower Meeting House in 1990. Much of the Lower Meeting House has been subsequently replaced by a third addition designed by Kubala Washatko Architects in 2008. Wright’s structure is recognized as one of the most innovative examples of church architecture and remains home to one of the largest Unitarian-Universalist congregations in the United States.

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