Central Presbyterian Church
1924 - Hyde Park, Kansas City
Inspired at yesterday's K.C. Public Library lecture by architectural colorist Paul Helmer on two historic churches of Kansas City, I decided to visit Central Presbyterian Church located at Armour and Campbell in Hyde Park. A very tight composition by Charles Shepard and A. C. Wiser using Greek Ionic order gives this church modest, almost shy, sense of its monumental portico facing Armour Boulevard.
In true use of facade, this Greek portico - based on Erechtheum North portico at the Acropolis - hides a rather ordinary box form of the main nave behind. Erechtheum is mostly known for it's South portico with caryatids, also called the "Porch of the Maidens."
In the analytique, I illustrate the alignment of entablature variations as they wrap around the building. For the sake of massing, it seems important that the composition of limestone trim be read as continuous bands all originating at the primary entry portico. This portico contains the highest degree of articulation of moulding, which then step down in complexity as the bands travel around the building, away from the portico. The architrave - lower, "beam"-like banding, just above the column capitals - essentially has no profile at all as it reaches the box volume of the main nave. The use of hierarchy within an element, is an important tool for architects in terms of managing the economics of materials: greater detail at the facade and entry, less so 'round back - yet with a managed relationship to the whole.
Charles E. Shepard and Alfred C. Wiser also design the Sophian Plaza apartment building, Second Presbyterian Church at 55th & Oak, and the historic Eldridge Hotel in Lawrence, Kansas (original structure burned during Quantrill's Raid in 1863).