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First Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, MI

August 2, 2017

The Reformed Church in the U.S. consists of two major divisions: German and Dutch. Given the high percentage of Dutch population in Michigan—all those tulip blossoms—I’m guessing the fourteen Reformed congregations shown in the 1910 Grand Rapids city directory were predominantly Dutch.

This remarkable Romanesque Revival building stood at the southwest corner of Fountain Street and Barclay Avenue (I think, though possibly at #81 Lagrave) until it was destroyed by fire at an unspecified date. I don’t know the construction date either, though something in the 1890s is a good guess. And I’ve located no other images than this one. So I’m including it here primarily for its robust novelty.

Placement of the building diagonally on the smallish site gives prominence to the corner entry without reliance on the more typical tower form. We get (presumably) a Latin- or Greek-cross plan, with no assurance where the Sunday school might have been situated. Our best bet is finding a on-line source for Sanborn Fire Insurance maps, which often provide information on interior arrangement, especially as it might have affected fire safety. The gutsiness of this building encourages me to keep looking.

  1. They got a Wm Johnson organ in 189 which reinforces your proposed construction date. Johnson was a high end builder and that fits with the quality of the building. There are no subsequent OHS entries under the name First Reformed, but you’re right, there seems to have been a Reformed church on every corner in Grand Rapids and all of them had organs (of varying quality).

  2. Sorry – typo 1894.

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