Oberlin Then and Now: Second Congregational Church

Prev   Table of Contents   Next

Historic photo of Second Congregational Church  Present day view of Conservatory of Music

Then: Second Congregational Church, 1870, Now: Conservatory of Music, 1964, Minoru Yamasaki


In 1860 103 members of First Church formed a separate congregation. At first they used the College Chapel for their meetings. The Civil War made funding and work on their own church difficult, but finally, in 1870, Second Church was ready for worship. It was a large Gothic structure on West College Street facing the square with basement rooms for social occasions, a large choir loft and circular seating. In 1900 when students were no longer required to attend church services and the membership of both First and Second churches dwindled, the two churches joined. From 1920 to 1928 they met in Finney Chapel. During that time First Church was remodeled with new carpeting, lighting, and heating and when all was ready, services for the town Congregationalists began again in First Church.

In 1927 the College purchased the property, removed the steeple, and remodeled the building as a temporary home for the department of Zoology. Wright Zoological Laboratory was named in honor of Albert A. Wright, for thirty-one years Professor of Geology and Natural History in Oberlin College.  It contains a large auditorium, two class rooms, five laboratories, a departmental reading room, and offices. The marginal floor space and gallery are occupied by the Zoological Museum. A tablet, placed in Spear Laboratory in 1908 as a memorial to Professor Wright, occupies a conspicuous place near the entrance of Wright Laboratory. [Wright Zoological Laboratory was demolished in August, 1959. Bibbins Hall of the Conservatory complex currently occupies Wright’s former location.]


Source: From the Bobbie Carlson Collection of Oberlin Churches, located at the Oberlin Heritage Center, and the 1936 Alumni Catalogue and a set of building cards created by the College Secretary's office, located at the Oberlin College Archives

Photo courtesy of Oberlin Heritage Center