General Description:

"In designing the building, Harold Van Buren Magonigle and his associate, Robert W. McLaughlin, Jr., drew upon the architecture of early basilica churches and Greek forum. However, they also wanted the architecture to reflect the people and environs of Nebraska. ...The thinking behind the design was to create a style of architecture that captured the emotional ideas of a free church in a free land, emphasizing liberty, liberality, intellectual power, democracy, confidence in people, and faith in God. ...Native colors of Nebraska are used throughout: old rose and tawny gold – one the color of the sunset sky, the other the color of the harvest fields. Red brick, in seven sizes and five shades, was used in the construction. ...The 171-foot tall, sixteen-sided "Singing Tower" dominates the building. It houses Nebraska’s oldest true carillon... . Sculpted figures picture

representing the evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are located at the tower’s four corners... . Above the main doors is the round "rose window". At the center of its cruciform mullions are a chalice superimposed on a shock of wheat that is made up of smaller, tied bundles. The mullions display grape vines and clusters of grapes. 

picturepicture...On either side of the rose window are two large, square, glazed polychrome tiles. The one on the left shows a peacock in a grape vine. The one of the right is of a phoenix rising from the ashes. Both are early symbols of the Resurrection. Small tiles representing various ancient Christian symbols are found beneath the large tiles. They include: the fish (an early symbol used by Christians to identify themselves), the open book with the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet "alpha" and "omega" (God who is "the beginning and the end" of all things), the Christmas rose (Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem), the Star of David-interlocking triangles (Jesus’ lineage as a descendent of the House of David/symbol of the Trinity), the dove (the Holy Spirit of God), the pomegranate (symbolic of the Jesus’ resurrection and the spread of the Gospel), and several crosses—"Chi Rho" (from the first two Greek letters in the word "Christ"—XP), Jerusalem (the wounds of Jesus on the cross and the mission of the church to proclaim the Gospel to "the four corners of the earth"), anchor (Jesus Christ, our sure anchor), and Coptic or Egyptian (modeled after the Egyptian ankh representing immortality)."


"...A large body of correspondence evolved between Magonigle and Wyland regarding the philosophy of the church's design.

It was agreed that First-Plymouth should represent 'a break with the traditionally eclectic approach to church architecture (and tie into) the limitless space of the prairies.'

Olson Construction Co. was chosen as the general contractor, Abel Co. donated the bricks and Angelo Tagliabue of the John Donnelly Co. was the sculptor.

To represent the prairie, Magonigle and his associate, Robert W. McLaughlin Jr., chose seven sizes of polychromatic bricks in five native colors. The overall color scheme was centered on the theme of old rose representing the prairie sunset and tawny gold for the harvest.

A general concept supposedly developed around a European manor/farm, with the 800-square-foot enclosed forecourt representing an area where area families and their livestock might be protected from hostile forces, the main sanctuary a barn and the carillon a granary or silo. The primary south entrance doors with polychrome tile surrounds and deep blue tiles recalled the vast expanse of Nebraska's skies, while the rose window above represented the earth supplanted with a cross for the church, which in turn featured a central sheaf of wheat for agriculture.

...The interior of the church, from the walnut pews and decorative floors, features earth colors... .

The completed church was...second only to the state Capitol in architectural merit." (

Technical Information (Size,mfg., etc.):
According to some of Magonigle's correspondence, the Mueller Mosaic Tile Company of Trenton, New Jersey supplied the tiles for the tile work, and the American Terra Cotta Company of Chicago supplied the terra cotta that was used in the Chuch's construction--the trim, the statues of the apostles on the carillion, etc.

Year Created:


Does Installation Still Exist?


Location of Installation:

2000 "D" Street

Lincoln, NE 68502

Additional Information, Websites, Citations:

Photos below courtesy of Michael Padwee (2011).

Submitted by and Year:

Michael Padwee (tileback101"at"; October 2011.

Mueller Mosaic Co. tiles on the front facade

Tiles made of stone in the rear of the Sanctuary with a "linomosaic", tile-like floor.

Page 1 of a 4 page Mueller Mosaic Company brochure that uses the First Plymouth Rose Window as part of an ad.

American Terra Cotta Company Apostle sculptures.

"Linomosaic" (a special linoleum-mosaic product) tiles in the Chapel.