Restoration work is underway on the $3.2m First Christian Church “Save Our Tower” project after The Friends of First Christian Church Architecture Fund at Heritage Fund met all qualifications to secure a $500,000 Challenge Grant from the Jeffris Family Foundation.
This marks a milestone at one of the most iconic religious buildings in America, and Landmark Columbus Foundation is celebrating by hosting its third event in the Progressive Preservation Talks Series on Saturday, April 21 at 1:00 pm at the nearby Helen Haddad Hall. This free, public event will feature presentations by Columbus-based architect Louis Joyner and Los Angeles-based design expert Daniel Ostroff.
Joyner, owner of Louis Joyner Architect, will share his work on the Save Our Tower project. Ostroff, Head of Acquisitions and Research at The Eames Institute and Consultant to The Eames Office will talk about the connections and history of Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen-designed furniture at First Christian Church and other buildings.
“This is a unique moment in Columbus. We hope that this event inspires people to learn more about this iconic building, the status of the tower project, and even some finer details (like furniture) that make the story of the building as special as the building itself,” said Richard McCoy of Landmark Columbus Foundation. “Our special guests will make this a memorable afternoon.”
After the presentations at Helen Haddad Hall, attendees will have an opportunity to take a guided tour of First Christian Church to see the tower project up close and discuss the visible progress being made. The event’s conclusion will be a special concert featuring the historic Aeolian-Skinner organ played by Lisa Lohmeyer.
In August 2021, Jeffris Family Foundation, which assists in the development of historic sites for nonprofit organizations in several small towns and cities in the Midwest, entered into a grant agreement with Heritage Fund, Landmark Columbus Foundation, and First Christian Church that would provide a $1 match for every two qualified dollars raised to enable the Save Our Tower project to be realized.
Jeff Logston, the project leader of the Save Our Tower campaign, anticipates that this $3.2M, eight-month project should be completed by November 2023. The private family foundation supports significant projects that strive for high preservation standards and show a strong degree of broad-based public support.
After visiting the Columbus community and meeting with Logston, McCoy, and project architect Louis Joyner to learn the details about the proposed reconstruction of the church tower, staff members at Jeffris Family Foundation determined that the project was well-planned and carefully thought through, therefore meeting their criteria for consideration.
Erin Hawkins, Marketing Director with the Columbus Area Visitors Center, said, “First Christian Church is an integral part of the story we share with visitors on our architecture tours. It was the first modern building in Columbus designed by an important architect, and its location within our downtown, and its relationship to the I.M. Pei-designed library across the street make it particularly significant.”
The start of the restoration marks the opportunity to celebrate a number of major grants that have been awarded to the project. Tracy Souza, president and CEO of Heritage Fund, said about 70 donors provided donations over the 19-month period to enable the matching funds.
“The partnership formed between Heritage Fund, First Christian Church and Landmark Columbus Foundation is quite special. Each party brings an important component to the table to make this project successful. It has been a joy to work with Jeff Logston and Richard McCoy over the past few years,” Souza said.
Fundraising efforts have been a collaborative effort between many parties, including First Christian Church, Heritage Fund, Landmark Columbus Foundation, Louis Joyner Architect, Columbus Area Visitors Center, Administrative Resources Association, and others. Source by Landmark Columbus Foundation and photo Courtesy of Kubany.