Parish History

National Register of Historic Places

We are pleased and EXCITED to announce that Emmanuel Episcopal Church has been named to the National Register of Historic Places.  The church is only the third individual building in La Grange to be added to the registry.  Thank you to Katherine Clark and Michael Bolton for all their hard work in making this achievement happen. A full celebration was held on December 1st, 2018.  

Please click on the link below for an article in The Doings celebrating this new status.


 A Brief History  

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 40 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 wedding.



     The Red Door

The Church has recently repainted two doors red, in part to repair them, and in part because red is the traditional color of exterior doors in The Episcopal Church.

It has been suggested that English church doors have been painted red since the Middle Ages as a sign of sanctuary. Some people today believe that the red door symbolizes the blood of Christ. For many of us, red is a sign of hospitality and openness. But whatever the reason, we believe that the Holy Spirit dwells within...not just inside the doors, but also inside of us.