Parish History

National Register of Historic Places - Update

On October 27, 2017 Mike and I went to Springfield to make a presentation before the Illinois Historic Advisory Council.  This Council, composed of historians, archeologists, preservationists, and architects, is the body that votes on new National Register Properties in Illinois.  Our application was approved.  On November 8th it was forwarded to the National Park Service in Washington, D.C. for final review and listing by the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places.  This review takes about 45 days.   We should be notified of the final decision early in 2018.

Katherine Clark and Mike Bolton

Please click on the button to view the complete application form

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Our church stands in the exact geographic center of the town of LaGrange as it was configured in 1874 and is the oldest church in the community.  Our first church building took three years to build (of stones from the old Stone Avenue quarry) with funds to build that church donated by town founders Franklin Cossitt who along with another town father, David Lyman, deeded the property to the church.  The church soon became the heart of LaGrange's social life, hosting parties, teas and picnics.

In December 1924, the old church was destroyed by fire.  To this day, the cause of that fire is not known. But the parishioners were not daunted.  Less than three years later, the "new" church building was completed, with additions to that building in 1949 and later.  The building was designed by noted architect John Neal Tilton who hired Grosvenor Goodhue's firm as consultants on the project. At the time, Goodhue was completing his work on the Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago.

Most of the stained glass windows which are magnificent, were not installed until forty years after the building was completed. They depart from tradition in that they not only depict biblical and Gothic themes, but also modern figures including composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, who was still very much alive when the windows were installed!

The church is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful in the Chicago area.  It was featured in the movie "While You Were Sleeping" starring Sandra Bullock as the site of her parents' idyllic marriage. 






The Red Door

The buildings and grounds committee recently painted the west door of the south building red, in order to maintain and repair it and because red is the traditional color of exterior doors in the Episcopal Church. 

            It was once explained to me that since the Middle Ages in England church doors were painted red as a sign of sanctuary.  In those days, if either the sheriff or gentry were pursuing you ran toward the red church door.  If you could reach the red door and cross the boundary into the sanctuary you would be safe. Nobody would dare cause you harm on hallowed sacred ground.

            More recently I’ve heard the red door symbolizes the blood of Christ. When you enter the church you are reminded of your Salvation through Christ.  The red doors are also a sign of hospitality and openness.  There are many explanations for why Episcopal Churches paint their doors red.  I like to think the doors are red because the Holy Spirit dwells within.  Not just inside our doors, but also in our bodies, minds and souls.  

            I give thanks for our Buildings and Ground Committee as they work to preserve this historic church and its doors. 

Peace,  Ellen+

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