To learn more about the history of Chicago, consider visiting a church. A first-hand experience will give you a unique perspective of both the people who founded the church and the people who worship there today. You can also see how Chicago’s population has changed and developed through the changes made to the churches. To get started, consider visiting the following historic churches in Chicago. To arrange a tour, call the church in advance.
Ebenezer Lutheran Church
1650 W. Foster Ave.
Chicago, IL 60640
Located in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood, Ebenezer Lutheran Church’s congregation was founded in 1892 and its sanctuary was completed 16 years later. The church was built in a Gothic style and features stained glass windows and paintings of Christ near the altar. The church’s connection to Swedish traditions is celebrated in December, when Ebenezer Lutheran observes St. Lucia Day on December 13, and it holds a service in Swedish on the Sunday before Christmas. Today, the church is a vibrant part of the community and welcomes and invites everyone to attend services.
Holy Name Cathedral
730 N. Wabash Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
If you’re downtown, consider stopping into Holy Name Cathedral for some solitude and contemplation away from the hustle-and-bustle of the crowds. Dedicated in 1875, it is the only cathedral in Chicago, and is also the seat of the Archdiocese of Chicago, which has approximately 2.2 million Catholics in Cook and Lake counties. The cathedral is in the Gothic Revival architectural style and blends both older styles with its newer, modern artwork from its renovation in the 1960s. Tours of Holy Name Cathedral are available and should be arranged in advance; you can also take a virtual tour.
Old St. Patrick’s Church
700 W. Adams St.
Chicago, IL 60661
Old St. Patrick’s, or Old St. Pat’s as it’s commonly called, is indeed one of the oldest churches in Chicago. Dedicated in 1856, the church is a well-known landmark of the city’s Loop. You could probably say that given its name, the church is lucky, as it narrowly escaped the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. When you visit, take a look at the church’s stained glass windows and its awe-inspiring Romanesque architecture. Tours of Old St. Pat’s are available, but you will need to schedule about one week in advance. Old St. Pat’s is known in the community and organizes events year-round. In fact, its annual block party, billed as “the world’s largest,” is also known among Chicagoans as the place to go to meet that special someone.
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Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church
2401 S. Wabash Ave.
Chicago, IL 60616
Located in the Near Southside neighborhood of Chicago, Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church is the oldest African-American church in the city. Established in 1844, the church has been in its present location since 1891. While you will want to see the church for its Gothic style of architecture and attend a service, Quinn Chapel has also been an instrumental part of history; for example, it was a station on the Underground Railroad. A number of notable leaders have spoken at Quinn Chapel, including Frederick Douglass, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Booker T. Washington. The church was designated a Chicago Landmark by the City of Chicago in 1977 and was appointed to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
Second Presbyterian Church Of Chicago
1936 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60616
Located in Chicago’s Near Southside neighborhood, Second Presbyterian Church of Chicago is both an historic landmark (it was named a National Historic Landmark in 2013) and a vibrant part of the community. The church was founded in 1874 and features Gothic Revival architecture. In a visit to the church, you’ll find stained glass windows by Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company and Tiffany Company, and ornate sculptures and murals. You can drop in for a tour of the church or attend a service. You can also stop by for the church’s “Sounds of the South Loop” concert series; the next concert is scheduled for April 23, 2014, and features tenor Oswaldo Iraheta and guitarist Paulinho Garcia. For tickets, check out the website for the concert series.
St. Hedwig Catholic Church
2226 N. Hoyne Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647
A longtime Chicago landmark of the Bucktown neighborhood, St. Hedwig Catholic Church was dedicated in 1901. With its Renaissance Revival architectural style, the church towers over the neighborhood. The interior of the church features ornate architectural flourishes and designs, with paintings on the transepts and stained glass windows. Established by Polish immigrants, today St. Hedwig has services in English, Polish and Spanish. It also has numerous outreach programs to aid parishioners and the community.
Megan Horst-Hatch is a runner, reader, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She is also the president of Megan Writes, LLC. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.