Lewis University Adele Fay Williams Collection of Drawings and Prints (Lewis University)
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Universalist Church (Joliet, Illinois)
Universalist Church (Joliet, Illinois)
TitleUniversalist Church (Joliet, Illinois)
CreatorWilliams, Adele Fay
Date of the DrawingDecember 28, 1930
DescriptionDrawing of the Universalist Church in Joliet, Illinois. This drawing is a part of the Robert E. Sterling Collection.
Title of ArticleAn early Joliet church
Transcript of the ArticleFrom Joliet Herald-News Sunday December 28, 1939 "Full of years and honors has been the old Universalist church, which has stood in the same spot since 1835, where it has watched the growth of Joliet since it was laid out as East Juliet. The accompanying sketch was drawn from an old print from the original St. John's Universalist church built in 1856 which stood at the corner of Clinton and Chicago streets until it was torn down to make way for the present Auditorium block early in the ‘90s. The old frame church was built in 1848, and the picturesque stone structure was erected eight years later. It happened that today the Rev. Walter Henry Macpherson is celebrating his 19th anniversary of his pastorate of St. John's Universalist church. Prior to his coming to Joliet, a young man, he served as assistant pastor of St. Paul's Universistant pastor of St. Paul's Universalist church, Chicago, for four years. He has carried on ably the traditions of his predecessors for energy and foresight, and has been instrumental in the growth of the church and of Joliet. Naturally, the church has grown with the growth of Joliet. Always a progressive organization, containing numerous energetic souls, it has been always a social and financial influence from the days of little Juliet to modern Joliet, and foremost in all reforms public and private. For instance, its members lifted the supervisors' office out of a slough of despond and built the court house. Moreover they raised Joliet from a place where pigs, chickens and cows ran at large thru the streets to a pleasant place with pretty grounds and no unsightly fences. Active in Improvements. Also they established paid, uniformed fire and police departments keeping men on duty all the time. John D. Paige was a name to conjure with in this connection. In the building of the first hospital the Universalist church had a considerable part. One Universalist subscribed three times as much as any other, and was always a patron. The names of John Keys and William Harwood also hold a high place for valuable service and cash donations, also to Charles A. Noble belongs the credit of furnishing the hospital and beginning operations. To John P. King and Harlow Higinbotham, moreover, is due the honor of giving the first "full dress ball" ever given in Joliet. The Universalist church put in the first pipe organ, gave the first concert by a male quartet from Chicago. Again the church was instrumental in the evolution of the modern school house from the old eight by ten, one story school building to modern style and proportions. Central school came first, then the fourth ward school, the sixth ward school, rearrangement of the first and the seventh ward schools and the building of the fifth ward school house. A member of the Universalist church set the ball rolling for the construction of the high school building, and lived to see the desire of his heart completed, so far as such a project could be finished. It has been completed in various directions several times since then, and will go on along that line to the end of time, probably. It was in 1835 that Dr. A. W. Bowen, a physician, who came here in 1834 in search of a location, bought the west half of the southwest quarter section 10, Joliet township. This was the corner at Chicago and Clinton streets, and was sold to Dr. Bowen by Benjamin Sharks, who received the first patent from the government, according to J. B. Blackburn, of the People's Abstract company. Dr. Bowen platted the property calling it East Juliet. The formation of the county followed in 1836, named for Conrad Will, and in 1840 Doctor Bowen and wife conveyed a part of block 4, East Juliet to Charles Sayre. And it was in 1848 that the trustees of the First Universalist society of Joliet bought the property from Sayre for the munificent sum of $75. First Meeting Place. A mortgage of $150 was placed upon it and the first frame church was built for the Universalists in 1848. The society had been meeting for several years in a tiny attic in a building on the site of the present Marquette hotel, formerly occupied by The Herald-News. The society met also in the court house. The frame building was leased to the Evangelical association. The trustees at the time were O. W. Stillman, Calvin Knowlton, H. D. Higinbotham, Samuel Sheffler, John and Michael Zimmerman. The Zion Evangelical society moved the house to the corner of Cass and Herkimer streets and occupied it for years. One of the lots bought by the Universalist society came to it thru Rodney House in 1856. About this time the famous picturesque, stone church was built, for long the happy home of the St. John's Universalist congregation. The church was one of the most interesting structures in northern Illinois, with its flying buttresses, big pointed gables an venerable ivy-clad walls. The very first minster to occupy the gothic pulpit was the Rev. H. R. Walworth, who followed the reverend preacher Otis A. Skinner who died in Joliet. An interesting corollary was the fact that Cornelia Otis Skinner the famous actor and granddaughter of the minister gave a program in the Universalist church several years ago in which she made reference to the historic event. Many other noted divines have occupied the pulpit of the Universalist church. Among them were Thomas Starr King who saved California to the union at the beginning of the rebellion. And there was Ichabod Codding, W. H. Ryder, Summer Ellis, Forrester, Moore, Cantwell, D. M. Deere, Tuttle, Doctor Dennis, Canfield, Pullman and many others still remembered. The late Dr. A. H. Laing, who occupied the pulpit for 30 years, was one of its ablest exemplars. The celebration in 1914, February 9, of the 70th anniversary of the Universalist church, in conjunction with the 70th birthday of Dr. Laing, was a memorable affair, to which many look back with veneration. The Rev. Mr. Macpherson, present pastor, was the able toastmaster. The proud boast of the Universalist church is that with unexampled public spirit the church has been the main force in telling reforms. The present building, both church and business block was finished in 1891, the architect being Julian Barnes."
SubjectWilliams, Adele Fay
Joliet (Ill.) -- History
Physical Description28.5 cm. x 22 cm.
SourceClick this link for more historical information on the Joliet area - http://lewisu.edu/imcanal
Publisher (Digital)Lewis University
RightsAll rights held by Lewis University. For permission to reproduce, distribute, or otherwise use this image, please contact the Howard and Lois Adelmann Regional History Collection at Lewis University at 815-836-5665.
CollectionAdele Fay Williams Collection of Drawings and Prints (Lewis University)
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