Fountain Street Church was originally established in 1869 as a main-line Baptist church. Over time, FSC developed a progressive theology through a succession of embattled, yet enlightened, ministers. Today, visitors will discover a Romanesque building full of Byzantine art housed in a 21st century liberal religious institution.
In 1917, a fire destroyed FSC's original American Gothic church building. The congregation voted to rebuild on the same site, but in a more authentic architectural style known as "Romanesque." Its present edifice was dedicated in February 1924, and remains one of Grand Rapids' pre-eminent downtown institutions.
Among the art that pervades the entire church building is an Italian Romanesque narthex at the entrance to the sanctuary, replete with intricate mosaic medallions, a Mercer-tiled floor and an ornate coffered ceiling. Adjacent to the narthex, visitors will find the Memorial Tower Room, which honors Kent County soldiers who died in WWI. It features a mosaic and gold-leaf domed ceiling, which portrays four guardian angels symbolizing justice, liberty, peace, and fraternity.
The majestic sanctuary, with seating for approximately 1,500 people, features one of the largest and most dynamic organs in the midwest. The sanctuary's architecture reflects the beginnings of historic Christian church design. During the 1920s and 1930s, FSC's basilica, the largest inside gathering place in Grand Rapids, served as the city's civic auditorium and as a forum for free discussion. Its architectural features include a Roman arch, a timbered roof with ornamental Byzantine wood trusses, an Italian marble pulpit, and a massive baldacchino that rises high above the chancel. Prominent throughout the sanctuary you will find intricate mosaics, paintings, wood carvings, and stone sculptures. The crowining glory of FSC is its stained glass windows. On the east side are represented the great teachers and poets of the Bible; in contrast, on the west side are images of great leaders such as Plato, Da Vinci, Erasmus, Gallileo, Darwin, Paul, Luther, Roger Williams, Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln. Throughout the building, visitors will discover an abundance of artistic symbols - from diverse crosses to symbolic numbers; from sacred birds, animals, and foliage to bronze sconces and tiles on the floor.
This brief description is far from complete. For all who enter this place, we encourage everyone to make their own discoveries, to enjoy FSC's art and architecture for its history, its mystery, its hallowed space, and its new expressions of the spirit.
Fountain Street Church offers tours of its sanctuary, narthex, and Memorial Tower Room. To schedule a tour, please click here or contact the Church Office at (616) 459-8386.
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