History of the Early Years of First Church of Christ, Scientist, Pelham Before its Sanctuary Became the Town Library
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Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog provides information on the history of First Church of Christ Scientist, Pelham. At the conclusion of the article, I have transcribed a host of articles related to the history of the church, providing citations and links for each. I also have included various advertisements for church lectures and the like.
On April 20, 1928, a group of Pelhamites gathered at Village Hall in the Village of Pelham Manor to form a new church congregation to be affiliated with the Church of Christ Scientist, headquartered in Boston. Although the First Church of Christ Scientist, Pelham, New York was not incorporated until July 31, 1928, the small congregation held its first service in the Manor Club in May, 1928. The congregation continued to hold services in the Manor Club for the next five years, until July 1933.
The tiny congregation opened a Reading Room in the Brook Building in North Pelham in May 1928, the same month of their first service. That Reading Room was moved to 135 Wolf's Lane two years later in April, 1930. The Reading Room was administered by a librarian and was open most days of the week for quiet reading of church literature.
A member of the congregation donated funds to acquire a lot and build a church edifice. The church bought the lot at Colonial Avenue, Wolf's Lane, and Carol Place in July, 1929, a year after the church was formally incorporated.
In July, 1933, the church moved its services from the Manor Club to the Masonic Temple. The services were held in the Masonic Temple for the next two years.
The cornerstone for the church was laid July 13, 1935. The building was completed in autumn of that year. The first service in the new building was held on November 3, 1935. Once the church was entirely free from debt, it was dedicated May 7, 1944.
The building has been extensively remodeled to serve as the Town Library. Originally the building was of the so-called "Colonial Design" which long has marked the architecture of Christian Science Churches throughout the United States. The architect of the building was Bernhardt E. Müller, a noted designer of Christian Science churches. In addition to the First Church of Christ Scientist, Pelham, he designed more than twenty other such Christ Scientist church buildings including those such as First Church at Bronxville, First Church of Schenectady; First Church at Flushing, N. Y., and Eighth Church of New York City.
Newspaper accounts at the time the church first opened included lovely exterior and interior photographs of the building with extensive accounts of the design and color scheme of the interior of the church. In addition, such newspaper accounts as well as advertisements placed at the time, identify the varous companies responsible for the roof, the pews, the carpeting, the painting, and much, much more. (See below.)
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Below is the text of a number of articles and advertisements related to the history of the early years of the First Church of Christ Scientist, Pelham. Each is followed by a citation and link to its source.
"LOCAL CHURCH WAS FOUNDED IN 1928
Held Services in Manor Club for Five Years; Recently Met in Masonic Temple.
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, was founded in 1928 by a group of Christian Scientists in the Pelhams who saw the need for a local society. The first meeting was held in the Pelham Manor Village Hall in April 1928. They held their first service in the Manor Club one month later, and in July 1928 the church was incorporated as a branch of the Mother Church, the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston. Services were held in the Manor Club for five years.
In 1932, the congregation moved to the Masonic Temple and services were continued there until the opening of the new church building."
Source: LOCAL CHURCH WAS FOUNDED IN 1928 -- Held Services in Manor Club for Five Years; Recently Met in Masonic Temple, The Pelham Sun, Nov. 22, 1935, Vol. 26, No. 33, Second Section, p. 1, col. 8.
"CHRISTIAN SCIENTISTS NOW HOLD SERVICES IN NEW CHURCH
Outstanding Features Included In Edifice Which Opened Recently
Attractive Colonial Design and Equipment has Received High Praise; Building Recognized as One Of the Outstanding Churches of This Vicinity.
The new church edifice of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, on Colonial Avenue at Wolf's Lane has been judged one of the outstanding buildings of its type and size in Westchester County. The first service was held in the building on Sunday morning, November 3rd. The seating capacity of the building is 250. There were more than 300 persons in attendance at the first service. The building is the realization of the aims of the members of the congregation which was organized in 1928.
The new church building is in a convenient location, at the northern boundary of Pelham Manor, and is especially available from every section of the Pelhams and the east side of Mount Vernon. It occupies an entire block frontage from Carol Place to Wolf's Lane with a depth of 310 feet. It is just one-half block from the Hutchinson River Parkway, and is accessible by trolley from Pelham Manor and North Pelhm, as well as Mount Vernon and New Rochelle.
The building is of the Colonial design which marks the architecture of Christian Science Churches throughout the United States. Bernhardt E. Muller is an outstanding designer of Christian Science churches and his services are greatly in demand for this type of work. Mr. Muller has incorporated many outstanding feaatures in his design for the local church building.
G. W. Carlson, of East Elmhurst, L. I., the general contractor, is a builder of churches of note. In this section of New York State he has constructed fourteen churches.
The building is built of brick veneer, with a Colonial clapboard entrance. Tall pillars surmmount the concrete steps leading into the church backed by a Colonial clapboard of uneven sizes. All the exterior woodwork is white, in keeping with the Colonial architecture. At night the entrance is lighted by the warm glow from an attractive Colonial lantern which hangs from above the center of the outside arch.
Entering the church the visitor steps into a spacious foyer attractively decorated in canary yellow. Plum colored runners are spread on the hardwood floor. On both sides of the [illegible] stairways to the basement and wash rooms. Walls shield staircases which will be opened sometime in the future when the congregation grows to such an extent that it is necessary to use the balcony.
Doors at the right and left of the foyer open into the church auditorium, a spacious hall attractively decorated in canary yellow, with old ivory trim.
The comfortable pews, which were constructed and installed by the De Long Furniture Company of Topton, Pa., have natural wlnut seats, walnut trim and old ivory backs.
The endpieces are of the Adam Urn design, harmonizing with the Colonial effect which is carried throughout the building. The plum colored runner carpets extend the entire length of the auditoriumm.
Handsome dull silver chandeliers, spread a brilliant illumination by indirect lighting. The ceiling is domed, spreading the illumination evenly throughout the auditorium. The electrical fixtures were manufactured by the Curtis Lighting Company, of No. 230 Park avenue, New York, of which formmer Mayor Lester H. Graves of Pelham Manor is an executive officer.
There are eight high windows with German antique glass in the upper panes and American Cathedral glass in the lower panes.
Radiation and ventilation follow a modern design. Radiators are recessed beneath the windows, and in the celing ventilators are provided to change the air regularly.
At the head and in the center of the auditorium is the Readers' desk above which is the inscription 'God Is Love.' On the wall to the left of the Reader's desk is the inscription 'If Ye Abide in Me and My Words Abide in Ye, Ye Shall Ask What Ye Will and It Shall be Done' -- Jesus.
At the right of the Reader's desk is the inscription: 'Divine Love Always has Met and Always Will Meet Every Human Need' -- Mary Baker Eddy.
The console of the Hammond electric organ is located to the right of the Reader's desk. This is the most recent developent in organ manufacture and has been recognized as an outstanding achievement of electrical musical production. Although compact, it is possible to produce with this instrument more than 1,900,000 different musical tones. The instrument is becoming widely used. The reproducing equipment is installed behind the Reader's desk the tones being broadcast into the auditorium through an ornamental grill in the panel above the Reader's chairs.
A door at the right of the desk opens into a rest room for the organist and soloist. At the left is the Reader's room. These are attractively furnished in the Colonial period. Tan and brown drapes are at the windows. In these rooms the Readers and soloists may prepare themselves for the services. A door cleverly set in the paneled woodwork of the platform on which the Reader's desk rests gives access to the corridor connecting the two preparation rooms.
An additional side exit is also provided for the auditorium. This leads to a porch convenient to the parking space at the rear of the church building.
In the basement of the building the Sunday School rooms are located. The general classroom which will accommodate 200 pupils is directly below the main auditorium of the church. The Colonial theme is continued here also. The walls are of an ivory tint. The flooring is red tiled asphalt with gray and brown trim. Attractive tan and brown drapes are at the windows.
Off the basement foyer are a spacious coat room, an infants' classroom and the Board of Directors' room.
At the opposite end of the large Sunday School room is the Superintendent's office and the boiler room. The building is heated by steam fired by a Williams' Oil-o-Matic burner. Radiation in the Sunday School room is by means of suspended radiators attached with fans to direct the air current throughout the room.
There is also a side exist from the Sunday School room.
The congregation of the church at the present time numbers about [illegible]. In designing the church, Mr. Muller made many provisions for [illegible]
Christian Scientists Open New Church
(Continued from Page 1)
congregation grows. Above the foyer, the outline of a balcony has been so constructed that with very little alteration it will be possible to install seating accommodations for 150.
Comprehensive plans for the landscaping of the property and the preparation of a parking place for 100 cars have been arranged. The landscaping will include the construction of walks from Wolf's Lane and Carol Place providing easy access to the church building. The area will be graded and landscaped to afford an attractive setting for the church building.
The church also maintains a reading room at No. 135 Wolf's Lane in Pelham Heights. Here authorized Christian Science literature may be read, borrowed or purchased. There is a librarian in attendance daily.
Regular services are conducted at the church every Sunday morning at 11 o'clock. The Sunday School meets at 9:30 o'clock. Testimonial meetings are held every Wednesday night.
Materials, equipment and furnishings in the new church building were supplied by many firms, several of them of national reputation. Carpets and rugs were supplied by the Gotham Carpet Company of No. 515 Madison avenue, New York City. Linoleum was supplied by C. H. Perrper, Inc., of No. 276 Fifth avenue, New York City. Pews by the De Long Furniture Company of Topton, Pa. The oil contract for heating the building was awarded to Town & Country Oil Corporation of No. 4299 Boston Road, Mount Vernon. The organ was constructed and installed by the Hammond Organ Company of No. 119 West 57th street, New York City. Grading was done by the Lloyd Landscape & Construction Company of No. 21 Mamaroneck avenue, White Plains. Electrical fixtures were supplied by the Curtis Lighting Company of No. 230 Park Avenue, New York City, and Black & Boyd Manufacturing Company of No. 430 East 54rd [sic] street, New York City. William [illegible] Reed Brothers of Mount Vernon were the painters. Chairs were provided by the Lyon Metal Products Company of No. 32 Madison avenue, New York City. The General Builders' Supply Company provided the mason materials. A. A. Green of No. 24 Rochelle Terrace, Mount Vernon provided the roofing. Heating supplies are the works of Joseph H. Garris, of No. 220 South First avenue, Mount Vernon. Electrical work was done by Chris W. Carl of No. 18 East Second street, Mount Vernon. Cement and gravel supplied by Irwin Supply Company of No. 746 Third avenue, New York City."
Source: CHRISTIAN SCIENTISTS NOW HOLD SERVICES IN NEW CHURCH -- Outstanding Features Included In Edifice Which Opened Recently -- Attractive Colonial Design and Equipment has Received High Praise; Building Recognized as One Of the Outstanding Churches of This Vicinity, The Pelham Sun, Nov. 22, 1935, Vol. 26, No. 33, Second Section, p. 1, cols. 1-5 & p. 10, cols. 1-2.
"CHURCH BUILDING IS PAID FOR; SMALL PROPERTY MORTGAGE
The new church building of the First Church of Christ, Scientist is paid for, with the exception of the small portion of the cost that has been retained pending the acceptance of the building under the contract of construction, The Pelham Sun was informed by a member of the Board of Directors of the church this week. There is a small mortgage outstanding on the property."
Source: CHURCH BUILDING IS PAID FOR; SMALL PROPERTY MORTGAGE, The Pelham Sun, Nov. 22, 1935, Vol. 26, No. 33, Second Section, p. 1, col. 6.
"CHURCH DESIGN FOLLOWS SIMPLE DIGNIFIED LINES
Bernhardt E. Muller, Architect for Pelham Church, has Specialized in Christian Science Church Architecture.
Bernhardt E. Muller, architect, who designed the new First Church of Christ, Scientist, of Pelham, is an outstanding designer of Christian Science churches, and there are many beautiful church structures standing as monuments to his ability as an architect. Mr. Muller is a member of the American Institute of Architects. He studied his profession at Ecole des Beaux Arts and made a special study of European architectural masterpieces by studying them first hand on several trips abroad.
He has been the architect for more than 20 Christian Science Churches, among them the First Chruch at Bronxville, First Church of Schenectady; First Church at Flushing, N. Y., and was recently engaged to design the Eighth Church of New York City.
Mr. Muller is also well known as a designer of country houses. He has acted as supervising architect for several important developments in the New York area including Atlantic Beach and Wychwood, N.J.
One of his outstanding architectural achievements was the creation of an architectural fantasy of the Arabian Nights, designed for the well known aviator Glenn H. Curtis [sic], at Opa-Locka, Fla., where the architect transformed a wild and sandy expanse into an Oriental fantasy of minarets, domes and picturesque homes."
Source: CHURCH DESIGN FOLLOWS SIMPLE DIGNIFIED LINES -- Bernhardt E. Muller, Architect for Pelham Church, has Specialized in Christian Science Church Architecture, The Pelham Sun, Nov. 22, 1935, Vol. 26, No. 33, Second Section, p. 1, cols. 7-8.
NOTE: Click on Image to Enlarge.
NOTE: Click on Image to Enlarge.
NOTE: Click on Image to Enlarge.
"FIRST CHURCH OF CHRIST, SCIENTIST, PELHAM, was formed April 20, 1928 and was incorporated on July 31, 1928. Services were first held in the Manor Club, Pelham Manor; and then from July 1933 to November 1936 [sic; should be "1935"] in the Masonic Temple, North Pelham. The Reading Room, first opened in the Brook Building in May 1928, was moved to Wolf Lane, Pelham, in April 1930. The lot at Wolf Lane, Colonial Avenue and Carol Place, in Pelham Manor, was bought in July 1929, the funds for the building having been given by a member. The cornerstone of the Church was laid July 13, 1935 and the first service was held in the new edifice November 3, 1935. The church being free from debt, was dedicated May 7, 1944."
Source: Barr, Lockwood Anderson, A Brief, But Most Complete & True Account of the Settlement of the Ancient Town of Pelham Westchester County, State of New York Known One Time Well & Favourably as the Lordshipp & Manour of Pelham Also The Story of the Three Modern Villages Called The Pelhams, p. 127 (The Dietz Press, Inc. 1946) (Library of Congress Control Number 47003441, Library of Congress Call Number F129.P38B3).