Today we are going to look at the First Avenue Presbyterian Church in the Baker neighborhood. At first glance it’s an average neighborhood church building, as you can see below.
But when you look more closely at the masonry, the polychrome brick work reveals that this church is an architectural gem.
The First Avenue Presbyterian Church was designed by famed Denver architect Montana Fallis (pdf) fairly early in his career during his partnership with John Stein. (Fallis designed several churches and commercial or office buildings, but he was best known in his later career for his design of the Mayan Theater and the Buerger Brothers Building.)
Constructed in 1906, the First Avenue Presbyterian Church made extensive use of a mixture of pale pink and light gray brick that is very similar in color to Castle Rock rhyolite. The brick was probably used instead of rhyolite as a cost-savings measure, but the architect may have selected it as a modern approach to church architecture, which in the 1880s and 1890s was dominated by heavily rusticated stone masonry. The use of this pale pink and light gray brick is uncommon, but it is even less common to see it accented with yellow and orange bricks at the entrance and windows.
This polychrome brick treatment continues on all four sides of the building but is most prominent at the entrance, with its recessed, but simplified archivolts at the Gothic arch.
What I also found interesting is that the base of the building is supported by Castle Rock rhyolite, which you can see at the right in the photo below. But the steps are a different type of stone, probably a buff Lyons sandstone from Larimer County.
The architect was clearly familiar with various types of masonry available in the early 1900s, and was comfortable mixing materials and colors to create a unified, polychrome façade.