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Wisconsin National Register of Historic Places

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First Baptist Church (E. Wheeler photo, 2007)

First Baptist Church (E. Wheeler photo, 2007)

First Baptist Church (E. Wheeler photo, 2007)

First Baptist Church (E. Wheeler photo, 2007)

First Baptist Church
201 Third Avenue East, Osceola, Polk County
Date of Construction: 1908-1910
Architect: Harry Wild Jones (attributed)

The First Baptist Church of Osceola is a well-preserved example of an early 20th century neo-Gothic Revival style church with distinctive early modern Craftsman details. A significant and intact architectural feature is the multi-sided Akron Plan sanctuary.

One of the earliest established religious communities in Polk County built this church; it replaced a simple wood-frame building constructed by the Osceola Baptists in 1863. The unusual design and ornamentation of the 1910 church reflected a desire to have an attractive and modern building that would serve the growing Baptist community. Research indicates that Harry Wild Jones, a highly regarded Minneapolis based architect, may have created the design for the First Baptist Church. The Akron Plan rotunda incorporated into the plan was a late 19th century innovation in Sunday School design that became popular with several Protestant denominations.

A traditional square bell tower on the south and a multi-sided rotunda on the west accent the rectangular form of the building. The contrasting cobblestone and stucco exterior and up-turned roof eaves are elements seen in residential design from the early 20th century and reflect the Craftsman influence. The stained glass windows are arranged in pairs or triplets and add a horizontal dimension to the exterior. The interior also has some Craftsman elements in the dark-stained birch trim, light-colored hard maple floors, and horizontal interior detailing. There are two large circular windows, one stained glass and the other a six-sectioned rose petal window with clear glass.

This building served as the First Baptist Church in Osceola from 1910-2006. The former church is currently privately owned business and is open during regular business hours.

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