In October of 2011, our church entered into its 125th year. Read a bit about its early days.
The First Congregational Church of Western Springs was founded in 1887 with twenty-one charter members. The church group quickly grew to more than forty, a membership recognized as “cosmopolitan in spirit and life, broad in sympathy, and tolerant in non-essentials.” Early members worshiped in a small frame schoolhouse that stood near the intersection of Grand Avenue and Chestnut Street. When this building was removed in 1894 to make way for construction of an ornate stone church, services were temporarily held in a large tent. The new building was opened in late fall of 1894, and was officially dedicated in June of 1895.
In 1929, the congregation moved into the building and sanctuary where we presently hold services. G. Grant Elmslie, a Prairie School architect and highly regarded associate of the renowned Louis Sullivan, designed this new building. Today the elegant woodwork patterns, the resplendent stained glass window above the altar, and the detailed stonework on our building’s edifice serve as stunning reminders of Elmslie’s talents.
Changes that have occurred over the past 70 years include:
1949 Church nursery school is formed.
1956 The addition of our current Education Building is completed.
1961 Congregation votes to join the United Church of Christ.
1987 The centennial of our church’s founding is celebrated.
2004 We celebrated our Diamond Anniversary with a major restoration and renovation effort that brought us up to date on many deferred maintenance items and restored some of Mr. Elmslie’s original detailing. With the near completion of these projects, we have qualified for inclusion on the National Registry of Historic Places.
We are housed on a beautiful site north of Chestnut Street, between Central and Woodland Avenues. The Sanctuary, built in 1929, offers an inspirational setting for worship. Next to the Sanctuary is the three-story Education Building, the center for classes, meetings and activities. Our buildings are accessible to the elderly and to the physically challenged, with ramps and minimal thresholds. The Education Building has an elevator to the third floor at its north end. The Education Building also houses our preschool and Kids’ Day Out programs. Its third floor is home to The Western Springs School of Talent Education.