The Elsah Christian Science Reading Room

17 LaSalle Street
Elsah, IL 62028
(618) 374-2591

The church maintains a Reading room at 17 LaSalle Street with the following hours:


1 pm - 3 pm


9 am - Noon

The Christian Science Reading Room is maintained by First Church of Christ, Scientist, Elsah, located in one of Elsah's historical buildings, and like many buildings in the village, this one is unique in style and history.  

In the spring of 1931 Jake and Albert Spatz, who ran the grocery store in the large frame building across the street, planned to build a corrugated iron filling station on the site now occupied by the Reading Room.  At that time Principia College was being constructed on the hill just east of the village, and the brothers hoped to serve an expected increase in traffic.  

Bernard Maybeck of San Fransisco, chief architect and designer for the college, had come to Elsah to oversee initial designs and construction of the campus.  One of the foremost architects in the country, Maybeck had designed the Christian Science Church in Berkeley in 1912, as well as the Palace of Fine Arts in San Fransisco, part of the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition.  Maybeck admired Elsah and its unique architecture.  Fearing that the metal building proposed by the Spatz brothers would alter the character of the Village, Maybeck offered to design a stone building. The Spatz brothers protested that they were unable to afford a stone mason.  A determined Maybeck then designed the building and suggested a method of construction known as "slip forming."

Loose stones were washed and laid in a section of wall two or three feet high.  Forms were placed behind the section so that concrete poured against the forms would seep around the stones, creating a rough but sturdy wall of mortar and rock.  Once the section had set, the forms were raised or 'slipped' further up the wall and the process repeated.  The Spatz brothers, assisted by Maybeck himself, washed and laid the stones.

The service station closed after World War II, and the property fell into ruin.  It was acquired by the Principia, and in 1977 the Mack family leased the building and converted it to the Maybeck Gallery.  Along with general repairs the Macks laid a floor with teak decking material and moved the office wall to the back of the building to preserve the original door.  Today it may be difficult to imagine that a Red Crown gas pump once stood on the street outside the building.

In 1986, First Church of Christ, Scientist, Elsah,  leased the Maybeck Gallery and finished it into a Reading Room.  We hope that visitors will pause to enjoy this unusual little building and to read, borrow, or purchase our Christian Science literature.  

The Elsah Christian Science Reading Room is a combination book store, library and study room where you can learn more about spiritual healing.  Come in and explore research materials on the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. You can read the Christian Science magazines - The Christian Science Journal, the Christian Science Sentinel, and The Herald of Christian Science (the Herald is published in thirteen languages) - as well as the daily international award-winning newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor. All of these resources, as well as a number of other audiovisual and print publications on the healing message of Christian Science are available.