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First Presbyterian Church of Stamford - National Fund For Sacred Places
2018 Cohort

First Presbyterian Church of Stamford

Stamford, Connecticut

The First Presbyterian Church of Stamford is a singular example of major American architect Wallace K. Harrison’s neo-Expressionist approach to Modern architecture.

First Presbyterian Church of Stamford by Robert Gregson

First Presbyterian Church of Stamford by Robert Gregson

2018 Cohort

First Presbyterian Church of Stamford

Stamford, Connecticut

The First Presbyterian Church of Stamford is a singular example of major American architect Wallace K. Harrison’s neo-Expressionist approach to Modern architecture.

The congregation was founded in Stamford, Connecticut, in 1854 but voted to move to its present location in 1954 and selected Harrison, known mainly for his International Style works, to design the new building. The profile and plan of the church mimics the form of a fish, an early symbol of Christianity, and earned First Presbyterian the nickname “Fish Church.” To realize the unusual building, Harrison collaborated closely with other notable professionals such as glass artist Gabriel Loire, architect and structural engineer Felix James Samuely, and Willis Mills, architect of the attached parish unit. The sanctuary is an early and widely publicized example of thin shell precast concrete construction, inclined folded plates incorporated into a non-industrial American building, and Dalle de verre stained glass.

According to the congregation, First Presbyterian has “long been considered an influential body in Stamford with many members sitting on community boards.” In 2008, First Presbyterian began an after-school program for local youth called Creative Learning @ FPC. Students from six nearby schools are provided with homework help, mentorship opportunities, and, for those who learn English as a second language, translation assistance. First Presbyterian is also involved with a wide range of other outreach programs, including community gardening, refugee resettlement, and monthly volunteering at two different local shelters for individuals facing housing insecurity.

A $250,000 National Fund grant with $500,000 in matching funds raised by the congregation will address issues of glass disease and water infiltration that have compromised some of the exterior panels on the east side of the church.  Future campaigns will restore the north and south walls.

First Presbyterian Church of Stamford courtesy NTHP

First Presbyterian Church of Stamford courtesy Google Earth 

Take a Tour of the First Presbyterian Church of Stamford, Connecticut

In April 2023, the Northeast Chapter of the Association of Preservation Technology (APTNE) led a tour of First Presbyterian, and we wanted to bring you along to marvel at the “Fish Church” and its bejeweled interior.

First Presbyterian Church of Stamford courtesy NTHP

Stories and Media Coverage

Read more about how the National Fund for Sacred Places is helping congregations around the country rehabilitate their sacred places.

Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church by Luis P. Gutierrez