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First Presbyterian Church, Salina, KS

January 3, 2014

Richard Kenyon and I drove to and through Salina several years ago during a loop trip that took us south to Kansas City, west to Pueblo, CO, north to Wyoming and eastern Oregon, and finally back home. Salina was a destination for its Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Cathedral, a remarkable mid-century Modern building by Cincinnati architect Edward Schulte. Cruising around town in search of the cathedral, we found two other well-preserved churches of merit. First Prez is one of them.

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Dedicated in 1923, First Presbyterian is the work of Charles W. Shaver, a Kansas native, 1915 graduate of KSU and life-long Salina architect. Shaver has the distinction of having received Kansas architectural license #1 when the state’s registration law was enacted in 1949—the next to last state to regulate architectural practice. One source credits Shaver’s long career with the design of 500 church throughout the Midwest.

This is a fairly common configuration of the A-A church: the “freight train” with all elements in an axial row; three-sided Sunday School at the far right (in this view), entry tower anchoring the middle and sanctuary at the left. Interior views on the church website confirm the altar/pulpit it at the extreme left end of the building, though no images tell us anything about what sort of partition (if any) linked the two interior volumes. The 1923 construction date—at the extreme end of the Akron system for religious education—would make this one of the last A-A churches built. Perhaps this is all wishful thinking on my part.

Shaver was a member of First Presbyterian.

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