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First Baptist Church

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1888, J. Lyman Faxon. 848 Beacon St.
  • First Baptist Church (Keith Morgan)

The Newton Center First Baptist Church provides one of the grandest examples of the influence of H. H. Richardson in the Boston area. Faxon borrowed Richardson's picturesque use of Romanesque motifs, including contrasting colors and textures of masonry. Yet, where Richardson's churches were tightly controlled, Faxon achieved expansiveness in his Newton Center church. Indeed, the former Immanuel Baptist Church in Newton Corner (see NW15), designed by Richardson in 1885–1886, provides an interesting contrast.

The Newton Center Baptists, one of the oldest congregations of that denomination in the state, acquired a prominent corner lot, which the architect fully exploited to create a striking composition from many angles. Faxon built the church of quarry-faced Gloucester granite with Longmeadow sandstone trim and a slate roof. The dominant characteristic of the overall design is the pronounced horizontality, accentuated by the loggia with Syrian/Early Christian arches that extends across the front and the single broad round arch on the side porch. At the intersection of loggia and porch, a tower, based on Richardson's Ames Memorial Hall in North Easton, Massachusetts, of 1879–1881, serves as the unifying focal point of the design. Attached to the rear are a parish house and a buff brick classroom addition built in 1963 (designed, perhaps wisely, so as not to compete with Faxon's extraordinary Romanesque composition). Constructed in the form of a Greek cross, the sanctuary features four great arches with fifty-two-foot spans ornamented with foliated stuccowork at the crossing and linked by massive wood trusses.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


What's Nearby


Keith N. Morgan, "First Baptist Church", [Newton, Massachusetts], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Massachusetts

Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston, Keith N. Morgan, with Richard M. Candee, Naomi Miller, Roger G. Reed, and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009, 483-484.

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