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First Baptist Church

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1902–1903, Reuben Harrison Hunt. 1906–1907, rebuilding, Hunt. 29th St. at Washington Ave.

The former First Baptist Church is a substantial landmark with a tall tower and pink granite exterior. Hunt, from Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he was chairman of the board of deacons of the largest Baptist church, provided similar designs for other Baptist congregations in Virginia and throughout the South. Never a leader but a follower of popular architectural styles, Hunt chose the Richardsonian Romanesque, which by this time was well out of fashion in New York and Boston. Designed for a new minister whose sermons drew record crowds, the church is essentially a preaching church with a vast auditorium that seated 1,200 and was oriented on a diagonal. A fire in 1906 consumed the interior of the church, and it was rebuilt in the next year. The interior decoration is relatively sparse, in keeping with the focus on the spoken word. The congregation moved to more suburban quarters and the building is currently empty.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Richard Guy Wilson et al.
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Citation

Richard Guy Wilson et al., "First Baptist Church", [Newport News, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/VA-01-HR50.4.

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