FIRST Christian Church, the downtown structure hailed by many as the beginning of the contemporary architecture movement for which this community has acquired an international reputation, certainly has aged well.
Indeed, it has held up so well that it is still associated in many local minds with the “new” buildings in town. Not bad for a structure that was dedicated in 1942 — 70 years ago.
First Christian’s staying power can be seen from a number of perspectives, but one that is important to emphasize is the commitment both within and outside the congregation to sustain this masterpiece as a true community asset.
First Christian is unique among the other contemporary structures because of its age, but a significant number of these architectural landmarks within the community do share a common asset — a deep commitment among their supporters to preserve and sometimes build upon the qualities that made them so distinctive.
That quality sometimes is overlooked when cataloging community assets. While it might lack the interesting elements associated with design and construction, it is essential in ensuring that the appreciation of an asset be shared not just by the generation that built it, but those that will follow.
This commitment has not been taken lightly. The proper maintenance of these architectural masterpieces has been expensive both in terms of costs and other resources.
It would have been easy for the institutions involved to take short-sighted approaches to preservation — putting off projects in lean years or taking shortcuts with replacement materials. Both the public and private sectors have been involved in keeping these older modern buildings new.
Indeed, there has been what amounts to a collective effort of sustenance based on individual and community pride. Just as the designs of the early contemporary buildings in Columbus inspired a number of public and private leaders to follow suit in their building plans, the commitment to keep them at a high quality also has been widespread.
That is what might be described as building and preserving for the future.