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Kansas City Frank Lloyd Wright-Designed Church Revives its Iconic ‘Steeple of Light’

Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation | Jun 25, 2021

After being turned off for two years, the Community Christian Church’s historic Steeple of Light, once again illuminates the night sky over the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri.

Located in the heart of Kansas City, Missouri, the Community Christian Church is one of 10 ecclesiastical structures designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and on October 9, 2020, the building was officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Community Christian first commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design the historic structure after a fire on Halloween night in 1939 destroyed the previous building. Named the “church of the future” by the renowned architect, the building was able to reopen its doors on January 6, 1942 for the first worship service in the new sanctuary since the fire.

One of the most iconic components of the building is the Steeple of Light, envisioned by Frank Lloyd Wright and designed into reality by Dale Eldred in 1994.

Unfortunately—due to deferred maintenance, as well as structural repairs demanded of the building itself—the lights went dark since the fall of 2019. This brought large fundraising efforts that allowed the steeple’s restoration and reillumination of the lights. They were turned on May 8, 2021, bringing joy and hope to its community and becoming once again, a beacon in Kansas City.

According to Reverend Shanna Steitz, Senior Minister, “We knew that the preservation work this building deserved could not be accomplished by the congregation on its own and so we established Wright on Main as a sister organization to assist and support us in our efforts. We are deeply grateful for the engagement of the preservation community and local partners who are helping us achieve our goals. For us, as people of faith, the Steeple of Light symbolizes the light of love and hope and inclusion that we try to share in the world. The four beams remind us that while one light shining alone is beautiful, when we join with others it can be even brighter and create a greater impact.”

While much of the congregation was involved in the restoration project, the non-profit Wright on Main was established to maintain the historic Frank Lloyd Wright-designed church.

Elizabeth Rosin, Principal/CEO of Rosin Preservation, was one of the many experts brought on board by Wright on Main to assist with the restoration project. “The Steeple of Light is an incredible beacon in the night sky of Kansas City. The Wright on Main Board was excited to reactivate it as we begin to think about bigger preservation issues. The next step is to fund a historic structures report that will give us a clear understanding of the building’s existing conditions and needs and will serve as a guide as we work with the church to prioritize and fund needed repairs and improvements.

The mission of Wright on Main is to ensure the long-term preservation of Frank Lloyd Wright’s design while making sure it functions for the 21st century congregation,” said Rosin. “The Board members bring expertise in areas that support this goal (preservation, architecture, community engagement, fundraising, etc.) and supplement the passion that the church’s clergy, lay leaders, and community have for the historic building.”

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