Spanning 14-acres and hailed by some as the hidden jewel of Boston, the majestic architecture and pristine grounds of the Christian Science Complex lures you in with its radiant beauty. This Boston landmark, set between the Prudential Center and Symphony Hall, is home to the church, a reflecting pool, an elegant library and a Mapparium - a three-story hollow stained glass globe.
Boston's First Church of Christ, Scientist (also known as the Mother Church) is the world headquarters for the Christian Science faith founded in 1875 by Mary Baker Eddy. Built in 1894 and reminiscent of Romanesque architectural style, it features marvelous stained glass windows highlighting themes of healing, resurrection and women's religious leadership; floors of hand-laid white Italian marble; and extraordinary ceiling murals. The Mother Church Extension, built in 1906, bears a Byzantine styled dome along with two semi domes. Seating 3,000 people and home to one of the largest pipe organs in the world, the organ has 13,295 pipes and must be kept at a steady temperature to preserve its tuning.
The 686-foot-long reflecting pool, which lies between the church and library, acts as the anchor to the complex. It holds one million gallons of water and is twenty-eight inches deep making it very tempting for some to jump right in, even though swimming here is not allowed. You can, however, witness something unusual by glancing down to the other end of the pool where an optical illusion makes it appear as if people are walking on water. Plans are currently underway to completely revamp this 38-year-old basin and much to the disagreement of many admirers, the new design will use less water, making it less expensive to maintain. With the proposed addition of trees, benches and grass, the area is bound to remain a popular spot.
The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity, opened in 2002, is a reading room as well as a lending and circulation library with access to Bibles, CDs, magazines, and the many letters, journals, and unpublished works of Mary Baker Eddy. Documents relating to 19th-century American women, medicine and religion are just some of the thousands archived here.
An especially unique exhibit in the library is the Hall of Ideas. The centerpiece is a glass and bronze sculpture that acts as a fountain. Words and phrases from some of our most influential thinkers float about and eventually spill over the edge of the fountain, down onto the floor and up the walls onto scrims. The words are then pieced together to complete inspiring and thought provoking quotes, changing constantly throughout the day.
Inside the main floor of the library is the incredible one of a kind Mapparium, a three-story stained glass globe. Visitors walk along a 30-foot glass bridge and view the world as it was in 1935 from inside the hollow globe. A favorite among tourists, the shape and design of the Mapparium allow the countries of the world to be viewed in precise geographical relationship to each other and gives great insight into relative sizes and distances, such as why a plane from London to San Francisco flies over Washington and Oregon. Another great feature in the Mapparium is the whispering gallery. The hard spherical surface of the globe reflects sound and allows visitors at opposite ends of the bridge to speak to each other and be heard as if they were standing right next to each other!
The library is also a relaxing and unique environment to grab a muffin, salad, or panini from Quotes café located next to the Mapparium and the Hall of Ideas.
Mother Church Attraction Information
- Tour Hours:
- Tuesday through Sunday
- Visitation by tour only. Tours run every half hour. Meet at the Mother Church extension center. No appointment necessary, except for large groups.
- Subway Stop:
- Green Line to Symphony or Prudential
- Location: 175 Huntington Ave, Boston MA
- Phone: 617-450-2000
- Website: christianscience.com
Library/Mapparium Attraction Information
- Tuesday through Sunday: 10am to 4pm
- Last Mapparium show at 3:40pm
- Monday Closed
- Admission (Mapparium only):
- Adult (18+): $6
- Seniors (62+), Students (with ID), Youth (6-17): $4
- Children under 6: Free
- Groups of seniors, students and youth (15 or more): $3
- Groups (15 or more): $4
- Subway Stop:
- Green Line to Symphony
- Location: 200 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston MA
- Phone: 617-450-7000
- Website: www.marybakereddylibrary.org