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National Register of Historic Places Program

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.


Property Name First Unitarian Church
Reference Number 14000537
State New York
County Monroe
Town Rochester
Street Address 220 Winton Road South
Multiple Property Submission Name N/A
Status Listed 9/2/2014
Areas of Significance Architecture
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The First Unitarian Church in Rochester, Monroe County, is a nationally significant example of mid-twentieth century Modern architecture, designed by internationally prominent architect, Louis I. Kahn. At the time he was hired for the commission in 1959, Kahn was emerging as a nationally prominent architect and educator, but was a designer that struggled with finding his own unique voice. Through the lengthy design and development process for the First Unitarian Church, and with the informed input from the congregation's building committee, he was able to refine and crystallize his own theories about architecture, inspiring the mature architectural designs that he would go on to create in projects such as the Salk Institute and the National Assembly Complex in Dhaka, Bangladesh. During his design process for the Rochester building, Kahn's theories of "form and design" were fully developed, and the church served as the basis for what is regarded by many scholars as his most famous lecture, "Form and Design," which he delivered in 1960 before ground had even been broken for the project. First Unitarian Church can also be viewed through the lens of his later theories on "silence and light," with its stunning and controlled use of indirect lighting.

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Properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places under four criteria: A, B, C, and D. For information on what these criterion are and how they are applied, please see our Bulletin on How to Apply the National Register Criteria