Arlington Street Church

Arthur Gilman, 1859–1861National Register of Historic PlacesBoston Landmark

Arlington Street Church, the first building in the Back Bay, is considered the “mother church” of Unitarianism in America. William Ellery Channing, noted Unitarian minister and abolitionist, served here for many years. His statue stands at the corner of the Public Garden facing the church. The church reestablished its political activist roots with antiwar protests against the Vietnam and Iraq wars.

Influenced by the work of English architects James Gibbs and Christopher Wren, the building is topped by an elaborate tower of many levels. The simple brownstone exterior is organized by two-story pilasters capped by a deep entablature. The pedimented front portico contains a tall round-arched entrance flanked by single unfluted Corinthian columns. Inside, the interiors recall the light, airy white spaces of many New England churches. The sixteen Tiffany windows date from 1898 to 1933. Some of Solomon Willard’s interior carvings for Bulfinch’s Federal Street church (demolished) are preserved here and display a rudimentary knowledge of the Gothic style. Willard was the multitalented designer of the Bunker Hill Monument.

Image: Biruitorul - Own work, Public Domain,