First-Plymouth Congregational Church

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First-Plymouth Congregational Church (1931)
20th & D Streets, Lincoln, Nebraska
Harold van Buren Magonigle, architect
Angelo Tagliabue, sculptor
medium: terra cotta

The carillon tower carries four integrated sculptures of authors of the four New Testament gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, set into a brick tower. Each figure, if you could call them figures, is about 12 feet tall.

There’s a list of connections here with the Liberty Tower in Kansas City. The design concept, Guardian Spirits on the four edges of a tower, is similar, although much smaller and in brick. The time period and the architect Magonigle are the same. The sculptor Angelo Tagliabue, working for the John Donnelly company, had modeled bronze doors for Magonigle for the Liberty Tower. (We don’t know much about Tagliabue.) And lastly this is Lincoln, the city dominated by the then-new Nebraska State Capitol by Goodhue down the street, Goodhue whose fourth-place competition entry for the Liberty Tower got as much newspaper attention as the winner.

Sculpturally these are in the category of ’emergent figures’, but the torsos of the figures are so geometric that the heads look like afterthoughts, and there are proportion issues. This is an example that reminds you how difficult the successful integration of sculpture and building really is.