The Chicago Temple

At the top of a neo-gothic skyscraper across from Daley Plaza is a steeple. It’s an unusual sight, not really something you expect to see in the heart of the Loop, but inside is a church whose Chicago beginnings date back to before the city was a town and which has stayed on that same corner, in five different buildings, for more than a hundred and eighty years.

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Methodist clergy in America traveled the young country on horseback, preaching wherever people congregated. The routes for these circuit riders could be up to five hundred miles. It was a rough life, and nearly half of traveling preachers before 1847 didn’t reach the age of thirty. In 1825, Jesse Walker visited what would become Chicago for the first time, even though he was fifty-nine years old and had been riding the circuit for nearly a quarter of a century. The old preacher became determined to bring his church to a place whose population consisted mainly of soldiers stationed at Fort Dearborn and a few traders. “Chicago got into Walker’s mind and clung to it like a cockle burr,” said Almer Pennewell in A Voice In the Wilderness: Jesse Walker, “the Daniel Boone of Methodism.”

Read more about this landmark in Living Landmarks of Chicago.

Completed: 1924
Architect: Holabird & Roche
Address: 77 W. Washington St.

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Sources for The Chicago Temple

This is a selection of specific sources used to provide details while researching this landmark. Additional sources, including books and websites, can be found on the Resources page.

  • Chicago: An Instructive and Entertaining History of a Wonderful City : with a Useful Stranger’s Guide. United States, Rhodes & McClure, 1888.
  • The Chicago Temple website and tour.
  • “A Combined Church and Office Building.” Buildings and Building Management. Vol. XXIV No. 3, 4 Feb 1924.
  • Crook, Richard J.. Jesse Walker, Pioneer Preacher. United States, Crook, 1976.
  • Dixon, Arthur. “The Rise of Methodism in Chicago.” Northwestern Christian Advocate. 14 Dec 1904.
  • “The Hard Road of a Methodist Circuit Rider.” The People of the United Methodist Church, 07 Mar 2018.
  • Rand, McNally & Co.’s Bird’s-eye Views And Guide to Chicago: Indispensable to Every Visitor, Containing Innumerable Details of Business And Residence Localities, the Most Charming Drives … [etc.]. Chicago: Rand, McNally, 1893.
  • Pennewell, Almer, 1876-. A Voice In the Wilderness: Jesse Walker, “the Daniel Boone of Methodism”. Nashville, Tenn.: Parthenon Press, 1958.
  • Spencer, Gwladys, 1885-1947. The Chicago Public Library: Origins And Backgrounds. Chicago, Ill.: The University of Chicago Press, 1943.
  • Withey, Henry F, and Elsie Rathburn Withey. Biographical Dictionary of American Architects (deceased). Los Angeles: New Age Pub. Co, 1956.

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