The history of this Church dates back to the early years of the 20th century. After its preliminary years of organizing, First Church of Christ, Scientist, Philadelphia held its initial services in June 1910 in a large new edifice at 4012 Walnut Street. The building was designed by Carriere and Hastings.
Very soon, with a growing membership, members saw the need for branches in other sections of Philadelphia and members began organize additional branch churches. In October 1919, twenty-six members left to form Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist in Center City. Fifth Church flourished and in January 1930 purchased Christ Church (Episcopal) Chapel at 1915 Pine Street. The Chapel had officially opened on June 9, 1877 as an outreach of Christ Church at Second and Market Streets. Philadelphia architect, James Peacock Sims (1849-1882) designed the Chapel.
In the mid to latter part of the 20th century, as suburbs grew and the demographics of Philadelphia changed, so did the memberships of the churches. By the early 1990s both First Church and Fifth Church had been prayerfully looking to their respective futures, studying their missions, and relationships to the community. Each was facing challenges that required action. In January 1995 an informal formed a Committee was to “explore possibilities for coming together to form a new church entity to embrace West Philadelphia and Center City.” With every step, prayer guided the members.
In October 1995, the members of First Church and Fifth Church, Philadelphia voted to disband and consolidate as a new branch, taking the name of First Church of Christ, Scientist, Philadelphia. They were committed to a branch church, which in the words of Mary Banker Eddy would be “designed to commemorate the word and works of our Master, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing.” Church Manual, p. 17. The edifice of Fifth Church at 1915 Pine Street became the location of the new First Church.
The 1915 Pine Street site continued to serve as the meeting place for services and the Sunday School of First Church of Christ, Scientist, Philadelphia until August 2013. Earlier that year, by unanimous agreement, the membership decided to sell its historic structure, having determined that the upkeep of the historic building was too burdensome. By late Spring 2013, a buyer was identified. The sale of the facility was completed in August of that year.
At the same time, First Church began a search for a facility that could be purchased as a condominium within an existing building in the Center City area. New zoning and other issues made identifying and purchasing such a property challenging. Prayerful listening was required. The first floor of an historic property at 225 Chestnut Street became available for lease in the fall of 2014. A long-term lease was unanimously agreed upon by the membership, which proceeded to hire the L2Partridge architectural firm to design a new interior. Renovation work began in January 2015 and was completed In August, 2015. The new facility provides the space, light, freshness and welcoming atmosphere to visitors that the church and its members hoped for, and includes an auditorium for services, together with a Sunday School and Christian Science Reading Room. The first services were held in August, 2015.