403 SOUTH JEFFERSON
FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
Architect: Gordon Lloyd
1926 and 1957 additions: Frantz and Spence Architects, Saginaw, Michigan
Restoration of church after 1973 fire: Prine, Toschach & Speers
Completed in 1868, First Congregational Church is one of two churches in Saginaw designed by the Detroit architect Gordon Lloyd. With rounded windows and other details, Lloyd employs a Romanesque Revival vocabulary. The building is constructed from tan colored brick. According to The Saginaw Daily Courier “a tint just now very much in vogue in the building of churches and large buildings.” In the late nineteenth century, the brickwork was stained red and later it was painted tan. Today, the building bears traces of all three finishes. Originally, the south tower was taller and featured an elaborate tower-like wood and slate superstructure. This was removed in the first part of the twentieth century.
In 1926 Frantz and Spence designed Bradley House, a large addition on the west side of the building. In 1957, the same firm designed a chapel and education facility that was constructed on the south side of the Building. This addition connected the church to a private residence designed by Alden D. Dow (see site 12).
In 1973, a fire in the church roof destroyed the roof and much of the church’s interior. Although the building was gutted and the day after the fire newspapers reported that the 1868 portion of the building was a total loss, the walls were intact. Also, the stained glass windows and portions of the organ survived the conflagration. The congregation reconstructed and restored the building. The 1868 walls support a new steel framed roof structure and the interior of the restored church features ceiling decoration designed by Saginaw artist Russell Thayer.
“The New Congregational Church.” Saginaw Daily Courier 15 June 1868. 1.
First Congregational Church: 150 Years in the Service of Christ 1857 -1957. Saginaw, Michigan: First Congregational Church.
“First Congregational Church to Dedicate New Building.” The Saginaw News 27 September 1958.
“Congregational Church Burns.” The Saginaw News 4 June 1973.
“First Congregational Church Reopens.” The Saginaw News 10 October 1974. c-1.