In 1879, after her discovery of the spiritual laws that heal disease as well as sin, Mary Baker Eddy and a small group of her students founded a church based on the words and works of Jesus and designed to restore the lost element of healing to Christianity. Today that church is known as The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts and there are branch churches and societies worldwide. The Davenport Christian Science church has served to bring the message of Christian healing to families in the community for over a hundred years.
The first regular meeting of those interested in Christian Science was held on Sunday, May 31, 1891, in the little old Newcomb cottage which was later a residence at 122 West Seventh Street. Later, services were held in Room 21, Old Masonic Temple, at Third and Main Streets. In this room, one year later, on May 31, 1892, First Church of Christ, Scientist, was organized. Services were held at this Old Masonic Temple until the move in 1895.
In the summer of 1895, Sunday services were held in the Knights of Pythias Hall on the third floor of the building on the southeast corner of Third and Brady Streets. The Friday evening testimony meetings and the Reading Room remained at the Old Masonic Temple until all were moved to this location around 1897.
As larger seating capacity was needed, the dwelling on the northwest corner of Sixth and Perry Streets was purchased in 1903. After being remodeled it was first used for services in June. This church was dedicated on June 28, 1908. A reading room was maintained in a room adjoining the one used for the church services.
In 1911, when larger seating capacity was needed again, Unity Hall, at Tenth and Perry Streets, an annex belonging to the First Unitarian Church was rented. The first Sunday and Wednesday evening services were held there in March 1911. Around this time, the members realized that plans would have to be made for building their own church edifice.
In March 1910, the lot on the northwest corner of Kirkwood Boulevard and Grand Avenue was purchased. On June 1912, the cornerstone was laid and while work was being completed on the new church, the Reading Room was moved to 705 Putnam Building. In January 1913, the building was completed. The first Sunday service was held on January 5, 1913. The dedication service for the church was held on June 15, 1919. In 1937, this church was air-conditioned, the first church of any denomination in Iowa to be air-conditioned. Around 1950, the Reading Room was moved to a ground floor location at 206 West Third Street.
1960 – Present
In June 1960, the membership voted to build a new church which would include ample parking facilities and ground-level access to the auditorium. Land was purchased in April 1970 along Kimberly Road at 37th Street and Fairhaven Road. Work began on the property in October 1979, and a cornerstone was placed in late summer of 1980. The first service to be held at 3705 Fairhaven Road was on December 14, 1980. On November 11, 1984, two services were held to dedicate the church edifice. The history of the church was read during both services. Recently, the Reading Room was moved to this same location.
A special thank you to the staff and volunteers of The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center for their help in researching our church history.
Bibliography: Old Masonic Temple and SE Corner of Third and Brady: Picturesque Tri-Cities, First Part May 1901.Unity Hall: Gorshe, Betty Kopp. Unitarian Church, Davenport, Iowa – For 125 Years, A Place to Grow. Davenport, IA: Unitarian Church, 1993, p. 121.126 E. 6th Street: Davenport, Picturesque and Descriptive. Tacoma, WA: American Art Publishing Co., 1889, part 3, item 2.