Lewis University Adele Fay Williams Collection of Drawings and Prints (Lewis University)
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St. Mary's Catholic Church (Joliet, Illinois)
St. Mary's Catholic Church (Joliet, Illinois)
TitleSt. Mary's Catholic Church (Joliet, Illinois)
CreatorWilliams, Adele Fay
Date of the DrawingOctober 9, 1926
DescriptionDrawing of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Joliet, Illinois. The church's steeple towers 205 feet over Joliet. This drawing is a part of the Robert E. Sterling Collection.
Title of ArticleSky line is dominated by graceful spire : St. Mary's Catholic Church steeple towers 205 feet over city.
Transcript of the ArticleFrom Joliet Herald-News Sunday October 9, 1926 -

"Some of the prettiest views of Joliet skylines are the charming bits apparently haphazard and accidental that can be seen looking east on a walk along Bluff street almost anywhere.
And among all these changing skylines none is perhaps more fascinating than the vistas dominated by the slender, graceful spire of St. Mary's Catholic church.
A church spire is always an aspiring, inspiring thing in any vista of roofs in any town.
Seen in Early Morning.
But when you walk down towards the canal bank, somewhere just north of Oneida street, your views of the dominating spire as charmingly arranged among the tall poplars and shrubbery. You can vary your composition of trees in relation to the church spire by walking a little farther to the north or the south.
The view depicted in the sketch was seen rather early in the morning when the spire and the trees take the appearance of a dark silhouette against the sky. It gives a romantic and sentimental view of the church and the landscape dominated by the spire.
The church has an interesting history, and its parish is one of the most energetic. Its interior is beautiful, and its services impressive under the leadership of the Rev. P. J. Hennessey and his assisting fathers, the Rev. L.J. Kiley and the Rev. L. J. T. Farrell.
Largest in Joliet.
St. Mary's parish is the largest in Joliet. Being a downtown parish, great crowds flock to the services from all parts of town. Eight hundred families, containing 4, 500 souls, compose the parish. Providence high school on Ottawa street, and St. Mary's grade school on Eastern avenue are all under the direction of the Sisters of Providence. In the music of St. Mary's services, Mrs. James Sime is director of the choir, and Miss Bessie Lennon is organist.
Organized in 1868.
St. Mary's church, the first was a frame structure at the corner of Scott and Van Buren streets, built soon after it was organized. But it was not the first Joliet Catholic church. It was organized in 1868 when it separated from the old St. Patrick's parish, the very first Catholic church in Joliet.
The separation came with the purpose of making worship easier for people on both sides of the river and the new church was organized under the pastorate of the Rev. P. W. Riordan, later pastor of St. James' church, Chicago.
He had been preceded by the Rev. Father Flanagan, who remained about a year, building the small wooden church not far from the Chicago and Alton station. The Rev. Father Riordan remained about two years and was succeeded by Father Mackin, who remained in charge for five years.
Dedicated by Bishop.
The Rev. Thomas B. Murphy followed Father Mackin, and was succeeded in turn by the Rev. Maurice F. Burke, who took charge in 1878.
The cornerstone was laid in 1877, and the basement was finished inside of a year and was dedicated August 11, 1878, by the Rev. Father Murphy, and the entire enormous structure was completed in 1882. It was dedicated by Bishop Foley and the Rev. Dr. McMullin of Chicago.
The church is built of the product of Joliet's own quarries, a fine quality of limestone. The massive structure occupies two lots, and is 70 feet wide by 132 feet long. The slender spire reaches 205 feet into the heavens, of which the tower takes 112 feet. The entire cost was $65, 000. The Rev. Father J. W. McNamee was pastor in 1877, with the Rev. Francis Byrne and the Rev. Henry McGuire as assistant pastors.
Elwood Was Mayor.
The supervising architect was P. C. Keely, of Brooklyn, N. Y. The stone contractors were Charles and William Werner, and the wood contractor was Francis Devine. James G. Elwood was mayor of Joliet during 1877 and 1878. He was a son of Nelson D. Elwood and Juliet Parks Elwood, his father being the pioneer railroad builder of northern Illinois, who left the mark of his energy and ability on the history of Will county. Nelson Elwood was the son of Daniel Elwood and nephew of Isaac L. Elwood, at one time secretary and promoter of the Western Union Telegraph company.
J. G. Elwood organized Company B of the 100th Illinois Infantry, and was commissioned by Governor Yates as its captain and went at once to the front. The daughters of Captain Elwood are: Mrs. Arthur Leach and Miss Louise Elwood, who live in Joliet.
Two Lots Needed.
The two lots upon which stands the heroic structure of St. Mary's Catholic church have a more active history than would be imagined. They stood in James B. Campbell's subdivision of the original old town of Joliet. The south lot was sold to Peter Cohen in 1835; who sold it in 1836 to Jessie Baldwin. The latter, however, transferred the lot again to Cohen in the very next year.
The year following the lot was bought by William Sultonstill, or Saltonstall, who immediately transferred it to Samuel Marrs the same year. It remained in his hands until 1852, when it was bought by Alonzo L. MacArthur, a farmer, in 1852.
Changed Hands Often.
The north lot was equally restive, according to John E. Morrison, faithful chronicler and head of the People's Abstract company. It was transferred in 1835 to Nicholas Boilvin, and then immediately to the hands of David Ratlray, who kept it several years, selling it in 1840 to Benjamin Carver. In 1851, Calvin Carrs bought it, and transferred to Alonzo L. MacArthur, who then had possession of both lots.
But Alonzo only held it until 1865, when he was prevailed upon to part with both lots, selling them to Michael Skinner. But Michael was unfortunate, and lost the property thru a foreclosure. And so Farmer Alonzo had it back upon his hands.
But not for long. It was bought by the Rev. Patrick W. Riordan, in 1869, who in turn transferred it to the Catholic Bishop of Chicago. It is probable that the small frame church near the station was already in use."

Caption: This interesting sketch from the west side shows the canal and river with the spire of St. Mary's church dominating the scene. The sketch is by Adele Fay Williams, the Herald-News artist-writer.
SubjectWilliams, Adele Fay
Joliet (Ill.) -- History
Physical Description35 cm. x 28 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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