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Inside Berkeley’s Maybeck-Designed First Church

First Church of Christ Scientist, Berkeley
First Church of Christ Scientist, Berkeley

The American Institute of Architects named this church one of the three finest uniquely American churches. I saw a picture of the spectacular interior and knew we had to sketch it. I contacted the architectural heritage group, Friends of First Church (see photos on their site), and one of their members was generously willing to open the church for our Tuesday night Urban Sketchers group.

She graciously gave us a tour and told us a little about the history and architecture and then we picked our spots and started drawing. The interior is sweeping and complicated, with “a pair of great crossed trusses spanning the central pace overhead.”

Interior photo from where I sat, First Church Christ Scientist
Interior photo from where I sat, First Church Christ Scientist

I tried to envision how I would get everything I wanted onto my page and then just started drawing in the left corner, working my way across the page, drawing directly in ink. I drew up until the last minute so had to add the watercolor at home.

That’s a pipe organ behind the choir loft. They’re trying to raise funds to restore it.  Everything is embellished with gilt so the room has a golden glow. The architecture and design includes many styles and periods, including Gothic, Romanesque Byzantine and Arts and Crafts.

Spending the evening in that beautiful, quiet, exquisite space was so special and we are very grateful to the Friends of First Church for so graciously sharing this jewel with us.

3 replies on “Inside Berkeley’s Maybeck-Designed First Church”

Great job, Jana! I was just in a church I would like to try drawing. But as I sat there, I wasn’t even sure where to begin. Thanks for the tips on your process and the inspiring sketch. Perhaps I can try a section in spite of my concerns about doing it justice. Ambal


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