Free tours Second Presbyterian Church.
Where: Second Presbyterian Church, 1936 S. Michigan Ave
When: Wednesday 1 pm – 3 pm., Sat. 11 am – 3 pm, except holidays and Sunday after church at approximately 12:15 pm. Also every Thursday 4PM-8PM during South Loop Farmer’s Market through Sept.
Second Presbyterian Church is Chicago’s only National Historic Landmark Church. Public guided tours of Second Presbyterian Church are offered by trained docents who will highlight the significant features of the Arts and Crafts church including the stained glass windows and a series of thirteen murals.
Donations welcome. To arrange a group tour, call 800-657-0687 or email email@example.com
Self Guided Tour Brochure: Guests can come any time the church is open and learn about the art and architecture by using a brochure that includes overviews of the history of the building, the four major artists associated with the church’s art and architecture, and the Arts and Crafts interior along with a map that explains all aspects of the interior. $2 donation suggested.
History Second Presbyterian Church (redacted from church website)
- Second Presbyterian Church is one of the oldest congregations in Chicago. Located in a landmark building known for its twenty stained glass windows and Arts & Crafts interior incorporating carved wood, molded plaster, murals, metal, and glass.
- The congregation was organized on June 1, 1842.
- In September 1842, Second dedicated its first building, a modest frame building at the southeast corner of Randolph and Clark.
- By 1847, the business district of the city was encroaching, and a new lot was purchased at the northeast corner of Washington and Wabash.
- Architect James Renwick Jr. of New York designed the new building in the Gothic Revival style.
- It was the first church in the city to be built of stone, and it also introduced the Gothic Revival style which was adopted by other congregations as they constructed new buildings.
- Due to explosive growth in the city in the 1860s in September 1871, Second merged with Olivet Presbyterian Church and the combined churches (named Second) agreed to build a new church south of downtown.
- The last service was held in the old church on October 1, one week before the building was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire.
- Construction on the present building, also designed by James Renwick Jr. was begun in 1872 at the northwest corner of Michigan Avenue and Twentieth Street (now Cullerton).
- The design of the large structure was based on English Gothic churches of the 15th and 16th centuries. It took two years to complete.
- During the 1880s the building was significantly improved including a bell tower with a two-ton bell installed in 1884. It is still rung every Sunday morning.
- In March 1900, fire destroyed the interior of the church, but the stone walls survived intact.
- Architect Howard Van Doren Shaw designed the new sanctuary in the Arts & Crafts style and is one of the largest and most intact Arts & Crafts interiors in the country.
- A number of significant memorial windows were added to the church between 1901 and 1918. At present there are nine in the sanctuary by Tiffany Studios, and two by others.
- Three of the Tiffany windows were installed in 1927 and came from First Presbyterian Church when that congregation moved to Kenwood. Many of their members chose instead to transfer to Second, bringing their windows with them.
- The last addition was in 1917 by Howard Van Doren Shaw.
- From the 1920-1960’s the neighborhood declined and the church was nearly abandoned.
- The church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
- The City of Chicago designated Second Presbyterian Church a Chicago landmark in September 1977, one of the few churches in the city to be awarded that status.
- In 2006, Friends of Historic Second Church was organized as a separate non-profit organization and is charged with the restoration and interpretation of the significant art and architectural treasures of the church.
- National Historic Landmark status was conferred upon the church by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service on February 27, 2013.
- It is the only church in the city of Chicago and one of only three in the state of Illinois to be so designated.