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Palo Alto Historic Buildings Inventory

661 Bryant Street
First Church of Christ Scienctist

661 Bryant 661 Bryant taken in 2012
Photo taken in 1978. Photo taken in 2012.

The following is from the Historic Buildings Inventory as prepared in 1978:

Physical appearance:   This two–story stucco and tile church owes its stylistic origins primarily to Mission Revival Architecture, according to Dr. Elliot Evans, an authority on Mission Revival architecture. He told a meeting of the Palo Alto Historical Association that it is the best example of Mission Revival architecture in this area. The curved facade of the building uses a curved arcade to adapt to its site. The octagonal clerestory is unexpectedly surmounted by a round cupola. Unusual window shapes adorn the central octagon.

Significance:  The lot was purchased in 1911 for $3500 and in January, 1916 the church members voted to proceed with building provided the costs "do not exceed $2000." The building was dedicated on March 25, 1917. In August 1917, Mr. and Mrs. M.A. Harris deeded "the lot of land adjoining our edifice" on Bryant Street to the church. Since the population of Palo Alto doubled between 1920 and 1930 (up to 13,652), a new Sunday School wing was added on the Harris property. Mrs. M.R. Higgins offered $15,000 to build the unit, and expansion and remodeling were completed February 15, 1930.

Mrs. Mary A. Kimball and Mrs. A.M. Hague instituted the first Christian Science services at 839 Emerson Street in December 1897. Services continued for over two years and on May 15, 1900 an organization was formed with meetings held In a public hall until 1904. (Palo Alto's population at the time was around 1600.)

The church represents somewhat unusual combination of Spanish Colonial Revival stylist elements and a very successful corner site design solution. It is an imposing architectural contributor to the downtown Palo Alto landscape.

detail old post card
stair detail location


This building, designed by Elmer Gray and built by Frank Graves & Son, was built in 1916 and is a Category 2 on the Historic Buildings Inventory. It was awarded a Commercial Adaptive Use Preservation Award in 2012. The property measures 150 by 105 feet.


Sources: Santa Clara County Inventory; Annex:  Palo Alto Times, 12/2/29, 4/18/30; Palo Alto Historical Association file.


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