Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church

Also known as: Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation
9400 W. Congress St., Wauwatosa, Wisconsin

One of Frank Lloyd Wright's last major designs

Photos 

Welcome to Annunication Church

The traditional eastern cross inscribed in a circle was the basis of Frank Lloyd Wright's design for this beautiful church.

Photo taken by J.R. Manning

Map 

Description 

Frank Lloyd Wright designed this beautiful structure in the mid 1950s, one of his last major projects. In fact, he died before groundbreaking in 1959. (The church was dedicated in 1961.) While the circular design represents a departure from traditional Byzantine architecture, Wright's design incorporates all the traditional Greek Orthodox faith's colors and the domed ceiling. Wright's design is based on the the eastern cross inscribed in a circle. The cross inscribed in a circle welcomes worshipers at the main drive entry.

The building is constructed with reinforced concrete, crowned by a 104' diameter dome that rides on a bed of ball bearings. It would be possible to actually spin the dome as it is not attached to the structure, shear weight holds it in place. Originally, the dome was covered with square tiles, as specified by Frank Lloyd Wright. Over the years, freeze/thaw cycles took their toll and the tiles began to pop off. The tiles have been replaced.

The building is comprised of three sections, the narthex, nave and sanctuary. The sanctuary is separated from the nave by a traditional Byzantine icon screen. The decor was specified by Wright, it is traditional Orthodox colors. It seats 1,500 people, no one is more than sixty feet from the sacristy and there are no columns to obstruct any view.

Wright abhorred chandeliers and specified spires of light (light trees) in the center of four spiral stairways that lead to the upper floor.

National Register information 

Status
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on December 19, 1974
Reference number
74000100
Area of significance
Architecture
Level of significance
National
Evaluation criteria
C - Design/Construction
Property type
Building
Historic function
Religious structure
Current function
Religious structure
Period of significance
1950-1974
Significant years
1959; 1961

Update Log 

  • September 18, 2016: Updated by J.R. Manning: Updated description and added photos

Sources