The Real Lego Church

The brickmaker has a history with houses of worship. /

In the landscape of Lego City, you can buy such oddities as an Arctic Icebreaker, a Camper Van, and a Swamp Police Station. But among all the buildings on fire, under construction, targeted by crooks, or abutting the city’s remarkably robust public transport system, you won’t find a single church.

Even the relatively new Lego Architecture series hasn’t thrown a cathedral in alongside its Brandenburg Gate, Space Needle, Fallingwater, and other landmarks.

That’s not really surprising. Churches don’t make great toys, the occasional devotional effort or wedding-themed Playmobil set notwithstanding.

Actually, Lego’s branding standards clearly bar the use of the bricks for any “religious references including symbols, buildings, or people.”

It wasn’t always the case. From 1957 to 1962, the company produced a 149-piece church set as part of its Town Plan series. While it looks a bit like a Spanish mission church, its design was likely based on a church about 12 miles from the Lego headquarters. The model sports a prominent “founding date”—1762—that remains a mystery to Lego enthusiasts.

Gary Istok, a Lego historian and collector, noted that in the years following the introduction of the Town Plan church, the Lego Group headquarters housed its own Lego version of the Cologne Cathedral in its Danish offices. Other semi-official (but not purchasable) special cathedral models followed: an Ulm Cathedral in Detroit, a York Minster in Wrexham. As Lego exhibitions passed from model shops to theme parks, cathedrals have been part of the miniature city recreations. Legoland Deutschland not only sports a much larger Ulm Cathedral than the one built in ...

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Also in this Issue

Issue 22 / May 14, 2015
  1. Editors’ Note

    Issue 22: Martin Luther, pensive proteins, Lego churches, and Ascension

  2. No Iota in Vain: Martin Luther’s ‘Great and Worthy Undertaking’

    The reformer translated the New Testament in ten weeks—and with strong convictions. /

  3. Inside the Protein that Ponders

    Even cells need time to pause and reflect. /

  4. Ascension Day

    ‘He took us with him to the heart of things’ /

  5. Wonder on the Web

    Issue 22: Links to amazing stuff /

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