The Architecture of First Presbyterian Church of Tacoma

by Rev. C. W. Weyer

Originally published as “Church Erected for 7-Day-A-Week Work” in The Tacoma Sunday Ledger, August 30, 1925, p. 1.

The new First Presbyterian church building is a pure type of Romanesque architecture. The architect, Ralph Adams Cram of Boston, is probably the greatest authority in the world today on church architecture. The building committee succeeded in securing his services after they had floundered about for two years and had failed to find suitable plans. The building, the furnishings, the lighting fixtures, the pulpit and the entire plant has been designed by Mr. Cram, and it may be said to the credit of the building committee that they have allowed him to have his way. Probably no other city in the West the size of Tacoma can boast of one of Mr. Cram’s churches.

The Romanesque is the earliest form of ecclesiastical architecture. Following it came the Gothic and still later the colonial. The building committee decided first of all that they would build true to a type, that when completed the building should not be an unsightly structure with a touch of the gothic or a suggestion of something else, but it should remain true to whatever architectural type selected.

After careful investigation the Romanesque style of architecture was selected, believing that it was even more beautiful and far more unique than the stately and more common Gothic. Those who have traveled abroad will recognize in many of the features of this church suggestions of cathedrals and church buildings in Europe. The symbolism and coloring on the dome and various parts of the building is simply carrying out the features of Romanesque architecture.

The committee believed that the auditorium should be churchly and carry the atmosphere of reverence and worship. Mr. Cram is past master in this art and anyone who enters the auditorium will realize at once that this was built for a house of God and a place of prayer. The same atmosphere is found in the chapel. Though the seating capacity of the chapel is but 100 it gives the impression of a cathedral. While the adult congregation worships in the auditorium the Junior congregation will hold their services in the chapel and the purpose of this service is to teach the boys and girls the art and meaning of worship.

The committee discovered that it was no more expensive to build a beautiful church and keep it true to ecclesiastical type than it would to build an unsightly structure and disregard all ecclesiastical features and that which appeals to the eye and to the senses.

One Response to “The Architecture of First Presbyterian Church of Tacoma”

  1. […] The Architecture of First Presbyterian Church of Tacoma […]