After a short trip through town I arrived at the meeting house. I pulled in and parked next to a small group of vehicles in a corner of the parking lot. Upon exiting my car I turned to face the building and was immediately struck by its unique features. On my right a low, angular roof resting atop stone walls jutted toward the sky. On my left a long, sweeping arc of windows supported a two-tiered flat roof that served as a flowerbed for groupings of small plants. Together the features came together in a central point to my front, tying the whole of the meeting house together. At first finding it hard to take in the subtle details of the beautiful structure before me, I stood in the parking lot for a minute and looked over the exterior of the building. After snapping a few pictures of the sun resting heavy over the center of the building, I decided to walk the exterior of the building face. Looking over the structure one more time, my eyes were drawn to a small stone supporting a plaque near the building entrance on my right. I walked over toward the feature, inspecting the plaque as I approached. Attached to the stone, the plaque provided a brief history of the meeting house and its landmark status. I read the paragraph quickly before a small red square in the wall to the left of the stone caught my eye. I leaned forward to take a closer look at the glossy red surface and noticed the letters “FLW” engraved on the block’s surface. Much by accident, I had located the cornerstone of the historic structure before me.
|Inside the Atrium|
|The Congregation Hall|
Eventually making my way back through the atrium, I exited the building through the same doors I entered some 30 minutes earlier. Realizing the wall of windows I saw in the congregation space had to have an exterior face, I walked back across the parking lot and around the right side of the building. Following a brief walk along an exterior wall, a towering wall of glass came into view. I continued walking as my eyes remained fixed on the bifurcate windows climbing high into the sky and culminating at the sharp point of the building’s highest roof. With the evening sun shimmering off of the wall’s surface, I found myself captivated by the simple beauty of the glass and wood that made up the uncommon feature of the building. I walked back and forth in front of the structure as my eyes followed the shifting lines of the triangular fixture. The appearance of the structure seemed to change with each new vantage point I encountered as I walked across the meeting house lawn. It was as if I was looking at a new building, albeit with a similar design, each time I stopped to look. The genius of Frank Lloyd Wright before me, I struggled to understand the foresight and artistry required to make such a masterful design. It was strange, beautiful, and well worth the evening trip.
I spent a few minutes more examining the exterior design of the building before returning to my car. On my drive home I thought about the building and the experience I had exploring its grounds. Realizing I was lucky to have gained access to the building during my visit, I retraced the interior design of the structure and recalled the intricate details that came together to make the highly unique space. As I worked through the details of the experience in my mind, I knew it would be a challenge to accurately describe the features of the building when I wrote about it this evening. As a result, I decided I would let many of the pictures I took of the building do the majority of the talking in my blog entry. While I still made an effort to describe some of the features I encountered at the First Unitarian Society Meeting House, I know full well my efforts (and even my photographs) don’t do the building’s presence and beauty any sort of justice. I can only say this was a worthwhile “I have never...” trip to a place well-deserving of its National Historical Landmark status. I haven’t been many places like the First Unitarian Society Meeting House, but I definitely hope I encounter more like it in my ongoing “I have never...” journey.
|One last look...|