Pilgrim Congregational Church and Frank Lloyd Wright

The Pilgrim Congregational Church in Redding is a unique and significant building. It was designed in 1958 by world famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
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If it is true that architecture reflects the people that produce it, their life, faith, hopes and fears, the following comments will be helpful for the architect’s preparation.

There followed a description of Our Faith, Our Heritage, and Our Cultural Crisis and Position in Time. Some of the significant items were these: We believe that creative architecture will make people aware of the resources of our Christian faith. Men thirst for God and are particularly desperate in our time. For many people God is transcendent and distant. Our building ought then to reflect the intimacy and eminence of God as well as his majesty. Man, if we correctly evaluate his predicament, feels incomplete, fragmentary, and anxious. Our church ought then to enhance his desire for wholeness, and develop his capacity to fulfill his divine destiny and confirm his nature as a potential child of God.”

It’s a lovely paragraph. So interesting, that phrase “particularly desperate in our time.” 1958 seems rather idyllic when compared to 2010, but such is the nature of our perception of the present. When the resulting architecture is viewed in the context of the congregation’s stated intention, it truly is inspirational. You can read more about the present day Pilgrim Congregation here.
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The church building is an understated testament as to how great architecture can capture nobility and yet remain humble. The angularity, the natural stone in concrete, the low slung ship-like main structure suspended beneath bone white cantilevered ribs, all of it integrates the intention of the architect and the Redding congregation.
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When I used to work in Chicago and New York, I saw many examples of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work and influence. We are graced to have this particularly spiritual example in our community. You can read more about his designs for sacred spaces here, and find a site devoted to art of Frank Lloyd Wright at the link.
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The existing church is only 20% of the original intended structure. How can we complete the vision?
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The newer Sundial Bridge has become the architectural symbol of Redding. It’s a bold piece of soaring bravado. I think this church captures a more representational expression of our community and setting. I could take pictures of this all day long. It’s Really Redding.

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