First Christian Church

Historic Building Fact Sheet

first christian church phoenix

Need to Know Info

Address6750 North Seventh Avenue
Phoenix, Arizona
Coordinates33°32’08.6″N, 112°05’02.45″W

Though Frank Lloyd Wright’s originally commissioned plans for a sweeping 80-acre Southwest Christian Seminary went unrealized when the school ceased operations, the renowned architect’s bold vision for a triangular chapel came to fruition in 1973 with the completion of First Christian Church in Phoenix, an adaptation of Wright’s designs that stands today as a stunning embodiment of his signature style.

A separate 1978 bell tower exemplifies similar geometric drama, with the church campus serving as the lone finished structure from Wright’s ambitious original academic designs.

The In-Depth Story

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unbuilt Vision Realized in First Christian Church

In 1949, the president of the Southwest Christian Seminary in Phoenix commissioned renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright to design a sprawling university campus. Wright’s drawings, unveiled publicly in 1950, envisioned an 80-acre Classical campus, complete with a chapel, administrative and academic buildings, a library, Greek theatre, seminar facilities, and housing for faculty. However, the seminary soon ceased operations, leaving Wright’s expansive plans unrealized.

In 1971, after obtaining permission from Wright’s widow Olgivanna, the First Christian Church approached the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation with a proposal to build a house of worship based on Wright’s original chapel drawings. Construction began that year, employing Wright’s vision for a towering triangular spire to create a 1,000 seat sanctuary completed in 1973.

True to Wright’s Signature Style

The church exemplifies Wright’s iconic aesthetic with stunning triangular forms. The spire, supporting the chapel’s sloped roof, rises dramatically to 77 feet, triangular in shape with four subtle sides meant to represent the Trinity. Bold textured concrete and native Arizona sandstone form the angular exterior walls. Red clay tiles stamped with Wright’s signature mark the roof.

Soaring Separate Bell Tower

In 1978 an impressive free-standing bell tower was erected adjacent to the church, scaling 120 feet into the sky. Like the spire, the square tower utilizes geometric optical illusions, appearing triangular when viewed from a distance. Over 300 tons of concrete, stone, and steel compose the structure, which requires no internal bracing. A 22-foot high cross crowns the top.

Experience and Legacy

While no standard tours are available, the church office may provide access to the building. The public can also attend services and view Wright’s vision fulfilled as a living, functioning church. Modifications since the original construction include expanding the choir loft and baptistery, along with a 1979 administrative wing, completed by architects from Wright’s studio Taliesin. The church stands both as an iconic work of modern architecture and the only completed design from Wright’s sweeping university plans.