Description Central Presbyterian Church, Denver Colorado
The church is enormous, it is a nearly perfect square and is basically a four-tower type Kith crossing gables of equal height and length.
The feeling of massiveness is derived from its great size and large windows, and from the use of Colorado sandstone laid in horizontal bands like Richardson's later work.
In the words of Richard Brettell, the church is spare, simple and coloristically unified. The walls are sheer and relatively unadorned, rising with a thin and expansive grace. The thin stretched quality is almost exaggerated in the tower where there are long, thin lantern openings topped by ogee arches.
In 1957 a Christian education and youth building was added at a cost of one half million dollars. It is a three story building tied into the original church. Including the basement, the addition contains 24,000 square feet of nurseries, classrooms, offices, kitchens, lounge and fellowship hall. This second building in no way detracts from the great building it serves.
The iron lantern, centered over the intersection of the gables is an homage to Franklin Kidder's tower at the Asbury Methodist Church, the second of Denver's two great churches of this period.
The interior of Central's sanctuary is basically formed, by two groined vaults approximately 65 feet high, giving the interior a conventional cruciform shape. However, the apse or half-round end of the church is used not for the altar, but is the narthex, or entrance, to the sanctuary. The Rose window has become the backdrop for the altar, pulpit and choir loft. To enhance this window structure, three arches have been introduced and an array of colorfully designed, hand-painted (false) organ pipes form a facade around the actual pipes. During the time that the church was designed and built, the congregation was meeting in the old Broadway Theater. Hence, at the request of the congregation, the floor of the sanctuary slopes down to the pulpit, and boxes were installed on the main floor under the balconies in each of the transcepts and the rows of pews are even curved to focus attention on the pulpit, thus giving the seating of the sanctuary more of a theater atmosphere than that of a medieval church.
A variety of embellishments are to be found throughout the sanctuary, Two false fireplaces extend out of the corner's to lend a medieval atmosphere. Leaf patterns carved in the woodwork of the sanctuary even suggest "art nouveau", a style that was in full bloom at the time this church was built.
The brilliance with which Edbrooke combined the massiveness of Richardsonian design and his own tendency toward light and height makes this one of Denver's most impressive buildings. Its hilltop position makes it a glorious reminder to all Denverites of the period of this city's life which gave Denver its character and its most beautiful buildings.