Another of Asheville’s great architectural treasures is First Baptist Church. Designed by Douglas Ellington and completed in 1927, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
Upon completion, First Baptist Church immediately took its place as a monument and symbol for our city. This project was one of Ellington’s first major commissions and received fervent praise both by the public and the national architectural community. As a result, Ellington moved his practice to Asheville and consequently was hired to design many of our city’s other great buildings. Some of these include the Asheville City Hall, Asheville High School and the S&W Cafeteria. Many of Ellington’s ideas initiated in First Baptist Church and were developed in greater detail for these other structures.
This 65,000 square foot facility has an outward form that is basically Neoclassical with decorative patterns and surface ornament that reflect the Art Deco style, which became popular in the 1920s. Primary exterior materials, brick and marble, are composed in a variety of patterns and low relief planes that enrich the wall surfaces with variations of texture and color.
Ellington layered colored tiles on the bell-shaped dome, graduating from green to deep red (as in the change of seasons). The dome can be seen from many vantage points around town with the surrounding mountains forming the perfect backdrop for Ellington’s design.