First Unitarian Society of Madison

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First Unitarian Society Meeting House
First Unitarian Meeting House
First Unitarian Society of Madison is located in Wisconsin
First Unitarian Society of Madison
First Unitarian Society of Madison is located in the US
First Unitarian Society of Madison
Location900 University Bay Dr., Shorewood Hills, Wisconsin
Coordinates43°4′33.2″N 89°26′6.65″W / 43.075889°N 89.4351806°W / 43.075889; -89.4351806Coordinates: 43°4′33.2″N 89°26′6.65″W / 43.075889°N 89.4351806°W / 43.075889; -89.4351806
Area4 acres (1.6 ha)
ArchitectFrank Lloyd Wright; Marshall Erdman
Architectural styleModern Movement, Other
NRHP reference #73000076
Significant dates
Added to NRHPApril 11, 1973[1]
Designated NHLAugust 18, 2004[2]

The First Unitarian Society of Madison (FUS) is a Unitarian Universalist congregation in Shorewood Hills, Wisconsin. Its meeting house was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built by Marshall Erdman in 1949–1951, and has been designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark for its architecture. With over 2,000 members, it is one of the largest Unitarian Universalist congregations in the United States.


Addition to the First Unitarian Society Meeting House, Shorewood Hills, Wisconsin completed in 2008

The society is housed in the historic Unitarian Meeting House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, one of its members and the son of two of its founders. Wright was commissioned to design the Meeting House in 1946. Construction began in 1949 and was completed in 1951. The building is located in eastern Shorewood Hills, on the south side of University Bay Drive at its junction with Highland Avenue. The church "upper meeting house", the original Wright design, is characterized by its prow-like roof, covered with a blue-green standing seam copper, set with a combination of vertical and horizontal seams to emphasize the roof's shape. The roof is supported by an innovative series of hinged-arch trusses built out of two-by-four and two-by-six framing members. There is no ridge pole, although there is the appearance of one both inside and outside; the roof is effectively support by the main roof section being counterbalanced by the extended eaves. The system allows for an interior span of 64 feet (20 m) without supports.[3]

The church building is recognized as one of the most innovative examples of church architecture. In 1960, the American Institute of Architects designated it one of 17 buildings to be retained as an example of Wright's contribution to American culture. The Meeting House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, before the traditional 50-year cutoff for historic buildings. In 2004, it was designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service.[2]

Construction of a major expansion of the FUS campus, designed by Kubala Washatko Architects, was completed in 2008,[4] with a second, 500-seat auditorium and community spaces being added. Extensive repairs and restoration were also made to the historic building. This expansion conforms to strict guidelines to leave the historic parts of the grounds unaltered.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2006-03-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  2. ^ a b "First Unitarian Society Meetinghouse". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2009-04-03. Retrieved 2008-06-30.
  3. ^ "NHL nomination for First Unitarian Society of Madison" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2017-03-22.
  4. ^ "Unthinkable Curve Graces His Design[permanent dead link]". Wisconsin State Journal, September 18, 2008.[dead link]

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