When I woke up this morning and checked my phone, I had several texts from friends and family who know I love Oklahoma history. Concerned I read the one from Big K first, “The egg church has been torn down”. I hoped that what he said wasn’t true but a quick look at my Facebook feed confirmed it. The iconic First Christian Church, the “Egg Church”, was a pile of rubble.
The First Christian Chruch was one of the first churches organized in Oklahoma City. Historical records show that their first baptismal was in June 1889. By 1910, the congregation had built a new home for their church at 1104 N Robinson after occupying a few other buildings. This would be their home for many years until the completion of the new sanctuary (this building does still stand and is on the National Register of Historic Places). In 1946, the minister of the church, Bill Alexander, helped the church buy land that had previously been part of the Edgemere Golf Club for a new location. By 1947, an outdoor auditorium had been built. The Sunday evening services were held here, “Edgemere Under the Stars”. On Christmas Day in 1953, the church announced its “Christmas present to Oklahoma City”, a new modern building that was a landmark to all who could see it, the “church of tomorrow”. The church was designed by architects R. Duane Conner and Fred Pojezny. They used concrete to make the large dome by pouring the concrete on steel mesh that was laid on a wooden form. After the concrete cured, the form was removed.
Sunday, December 23rd, 1956, the new church welcomed its first worshipers. It is said that over 2000 people attended that first service in the new sanctuary. The architecture for the time was so spectacular that the church was featured in Life magazine in 1957. This church was a center for the community for many years. It hosted events from weddings to funerals, from school concerts to the Miss Oklahoma Pageant. But most importantly it served as “The Center” during the time shortly after the Murrah Building bombing in 1995. Set up by the church, the medical examiner, and a group of funeral directors, the American Red Cross also set up in the building. It served as a safe haven from the media for those who lost loved ones in the attack. It’s rumored that Oprah Winfrey herself even went to the church to help the victims and their families. For 16 days after the bombing, it was a place of solace for those closely affected. In 2016, the First Christian Chruch put the property up for sale. The size of the congregation had shrunk and the building was becoming expensive to repair. By 2018, the first whispers of demolition started. Many tried to fight back, even trying to get the city council involved. Even though it had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2011, it was at risk. A couple of other churches stepped forward to buy it but in the long run the property just needed to many repairs.
I never got to go in the building. I only got a few pictures back in 2019, never thought to go back and take more. A sad day for Oklahoma history and for those who love mid-century designs.