It was commissioned from the firm Honeyman & Keppie by the Free Church of Saint Matthew in 1896. The site they had chosen was not ideal; it was situated on a corner sandwiched between warehouses and tenement buildings. Perhaps it was for this reason that John Honeyman passed the job onto Mackintosh, at that point only a trainee with the architecture firm.
The church required a simple design, and so rather than the traditional spire dominating the building, Mackintosh elected to employ a Modern Gothic style. The church has a corner tower, which gives the building the look of a fort. These towers were quite common in that period; many have survived and can be seen among Glasgow’s present day rooftops. Mackintosh would later design a grander tower for the Glasgow Herald Building, which was used in that period as a place to store water in case of fire. In the case of Queens Cross Church, the trainee architect added features to the simple style that would soon become synonymous with the young architect, namely the narrow, stylistic windows, and the curved heart shapes embedded in the doors and pulpits.
The church itself was decommissioned in the 1970s, with the congregation merging with that at Ruchill Parish (adjoined to another Mackintosh building, Ruchill Hall). In 1977 the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society made Queens Cross their headquarters. In 1999, Dr. Thomas Howarth, Mackintosh’s first biographer, made a generous donation that allowed the CRMS to buy the building outright. Their benefactor said the church possesses “a warmth and charm conspicuously absent from many churches of the period due largely to the traditional simplicity of Mackintosh’s architectural forms and to the mysticism and spirituality of his decorative motives.”