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Clifton Heights United Presbyterian Church

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1923–1924, F. A. Harris. 1931 S.W. 1st St.

Located on a rather small side-lot on a steep hill is one of Iowa's most unusual church buildings. F. A. Harris took the theme of the “Akron plan” centralized auditorium and placed it within a flat-roofed brick box. He provided light to the interior through factory-made steel window units, and he articulated the facades of the building utilizing the language of the Prairie style. The auditorium section has the feel of Frank Lloyd Wright's Unity Temple (1904) in Oak Park, Illinois, or of Purcell and Feick's Stewart Memorial Church (1909) in Minneapolis. In the Clifton Heights church, however, the four corners of the cruciform have been filled in, and the corners are defined as slightly projecting lower volumes. Harris employed the usual Prairie-style device of engaged piers with a suggestion of capitals in a band but without an entablature or cornice above. The terminal cornice of the building is composed of three outward-projecting bands of cast stone and bricks, with a final coping of cast stone. The exterior of the building suggests something between an industrial image and that of some sort of public building. Without the sign, one would never guess that it is a church.

Writing Credits

David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim


What's Nearby


David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim, "Clifton Heights United Presbyterian Church", [Des Moines, Iowa], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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