Out Of The Archives:
First Church Of Christ Scientist In Berkeley

Even though this building is on the list of National Historic Landmarks it is not an easy accomplishment to see the interior of this church. Only open to the public on the first Sunday of each month, and during special events, it takes conscious effort to make note of the one day and time each month that it is open freely to the public.

The two months of the year that the building is at its most beautiful are in April and May, when either one of the two varieties of Wisteria are dripping along its exterior walls.

The First Church of Christ Scientist was designed by architect Bernard Maybeck in 1910. Maybeck studied architecture at L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and one can clearly see the influences that Romanesque, Gothic, and Byzantine architectural history had in creating what many consider to be one of Maybeck’s finest Arts and Crafts accomplishments.

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Inside the building is one great hall, a side chapel, a community room and a few smaller rooms that serve as nursery and office. Throughout the building there are a lot of little touches that made it unique for its time – the stencil work, the use of concrete with its combination of unpainted wood walls and beams, and the industrial windows that used Belgian hammered glass to filter the light and images coming in from outside.

The community room features a fireplace, an important part of a Maybeck building, which is still used by the members of the congregation.

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The architectural tours are put on by The Friends of the First Church

First Church of Christ Scientist
2619 Dwight Way at Bowditch
Berkeley, CA 94704

Out Of The Archives:
Bones, Bones, And More Bones

It’s a strange sort of beauty that awaits at the bottom of the stairs of the gothic Bone Church of Sedlec. Bones are everywhere. Human bones. Forty-some-odd-thousand of them to be not too exact.

Originally the bones were arranged in neatly stacked piles by a half-blind monk in the early 16th century, while the chandeliers, columns, and decorative shields of the noble Schwarzenberg family were created later by a Czech wood-carver, Frantisek Rindt who began this run of creativity in 1870. For his creations, he used these bones and skulls of the dead warriors who ended up here after fighting in the Hussite Wars in the early part of the 15th century (1419 to around 1434).

In 1278, the abbot of Sedlec went to the Holy Land and brought back a jar full of earth which was spread over the cemetery. This immediately made the cemetery one of the holiest burial places in central Europe. By 1318 there were over 30,000 bodies buried here, many of these people had died due to the plague. The All Saint’s Kostinice was built in 1400 and then the ossuary was added in 1511. The church itself is built of stone, not bones, it is merely the decoration that takes its abstract human form.

Weird Note: When looking up the word Kostinice in my Cesko/Anglicky dictionary I noted the Czech word kost means bone and the Czech word kostel means church.