Dr. James M. Frost, LifeWays first president, wanted to form an organization to help other churches spread the word of God and impact the culture. Though, he wasnt quite sure how to get things up and running, he went to the Southern Baptist Convention in hopes of getting his ideas approved. The Convention approved but they could not give him the funds needed to build. After time had passed and he was able to get together the funds, he began to materialize his vision with Lifeway Christian Resources (also known as The Baptist Sunday School Board or the Frost Building).
The building was designed by the firm Hart and Gardner Architects and built in 1913. Frost began to publish Sunday School curriculum in the Baptist and Reflector, using the building as a publishing house.
The Baptist Sunday School Board once stood tall and proudly showed off its many classical features, shaped a lot like the Parthenon with its rectangular and symmetrical build.
Before it was torn down you could walk down the street and see it in all its glory, with engaged and corinthian columns, the frieze showcasing the name of the building instead of decorative sculpture. Furthermore, it showed promise of knowledge being stored inside. The building itself was refined yet extravagant seeing that it was made in the image of Neoclassical architecture and constructed with gray granite. For a time the building was used as a place for people to discuss ideas about Christianity and ways of worship, but over time it became a place to buy things like bibles, devotionals, etc. Many would walk through in search of something to strengthen their faith or to help others find theirs.
To illustrate the classical features of the Baptist Sunday School Board in more depth, will contrast with the Customs House in Nashville. The Customs House was built in 1875 with limestone from Bowling Green, Kentucky. It was designed by William Appelton Potter in the Victorian Gothic style and it was the first post office in Nashville at the time. Along with that, it was also the first federal building in the South made in this style since the Civil War. The first thing you may notice upon seeing the Customs House is the sweeping height of its bell tower, this is a common characteristic of Gothic architecture. The building has pointed arches, a form not only designed to be something pretty and new, but to help distribute heavier ceilings and walls. Although, Classical and Gothic architecture have these differences, it should be noted that they also have many things in common. They both were heavily influenced by religion when they came about and are represented best when in places of worship.
When picking out an architectural style for a place dedicated to the worship of God it makes sense to pick a classical style because of the many options you have. The Romans and Greeks were polytheistic and had many grandiose temples/altars built for their Gods/Goddesses. A good example of this is the Parthenon, a large scale temple built for the Goddess Athena. The Greeks were very dedicated to making their temples beautiful and intricate, you can see how much they appreciate their Gods by how much work was put into the construction of their temples. The Greeks and Romans architecture showed power and stability without being in your face. Their architecture doesnt scream power, but your subconscious takes note of it, What should be better for a power in place than to make us believe that it is not simply there by an act of force, but that its authority is inscribed in nature herself? (Zerner, Art Journal, 36).