Gothic Revival interior
(1874-1900) designed by
James Renwick
Church exterior before the
bell tower was erected in 1884
Historic photos courtesy of William Tyre
*All photos by Martin Cheung unless otherwise noted
*Interior sanctuary photo by James Caulfield

In 1842, Second Presbyterian Church was organized with 26 members. James Renwick, a prominent East Coast architect, was commissioned in 1847 to design a new church. Four years later a Gothic Revival church was completed at the corner of Wabash and Washington Streets. The Great Chicago Fire of October 1871 destroyed the church. Renwick was once again retained to design a new church at the Church’s current location, the northwest corner of South Michigan Avenue and Cullerton Street. The Gothic Revival church was completed three years later. In 1900, a fire destroyed the roof and extensive smoke and water damage devastated the interior. The young architect, Howard Van Doren Shaw and muralist Frederic Clay Bartlett collaborated on an Arts and Crafts design to rebuild the sanctuary.