Chicago's First Universalist Church
Chicago's First Universalist Church
Posted by: Bill_Baar (
Date: January 08, 2013 04:33PM

Here's a reference to the Chicago Trib of Oct 10, 1954 on the plans for the new First Universalist Church to be built at 83rd and Ingleside.

"Inclosing Wall to Mark Design of New Church." Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963): 1. Oct 10 1954. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Chicago Tribune (1849-1989). Web. 8 Jan. 2013 .

[i]One of the city's most ununusual church buildings, the new $160,000 First Universalist church, is being constructed at 83d st. and Ingleside av. The 92 foot square structure will consist of two buildings surrounding an open...[/i]

Google the intersection and you can see the building. It's still a Church but no longer a Universalist one. The congregation gave it up and now meets as "All Souls Free Religous Fellowship". You can find them on facebook. They merged with the All Souls group which once met at a similarly historic structure. The Abraham Lincoln Center

The First Universalist Church was one of the oldest Churches in Chicago. In the past the Congregation had worshiped at 6614 S. Blackstone (Church still there) and before that as St Pauls on the Midway (First Universalist). That Church is still there although now part of the U of C's+on+the+Midway+Chicago+Universalist&source=bl&ots=IohJRMT9Ka&sig=Rdwi4YAdTL3veqj56i5K4d7QLhI&hl=en&sa=X&ei=G3TsUInpFOK72QXXlIHYAg&ved=0CEoQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=St%20Paul's%20on%20the%20Midway%20Chicago%20Universalist&f=false

Would enjoy hearing from anyone with knowledge of the Congregation during the 50s and 60s.

Re: Chicago's First Universalist Church
Posted by: WayOutWardell (63.226.79.---)
Date: January 09, 2013 11:50PM

Hi Bill,
Just curious, do you know when St. Paul congregation left the church on the Midway and went to the Blackstone building? The congregation that's now in the Blackstone building (Mt. Pleasant MB Church) has been there since 1951, according to their website.

Hyde Park Day School is now in the St. Paul Midway building, although they're moving to a new facility on 63rd & Ingleside so it's anyone's guess what happens to the building once it's vacant.

As an aside - there's a newer Abraham Lincoln Center building on the corner of Cottage Grove and Pershing. Next to the entrance is a bronze plaque (visible in Google Street View) that used to be mounted on the FL Wright building over on Oakwood.

Re: Chicago's First Universalist Church
Posted by: Bill_Baar (
Date: January 10, 2013 01:28PM

Good question. St Pauls left the Midway sometime just before or after the start of WW2. The U of C has pictures of the building in use by the Army Signal Corps. Sometime in the late 40s you'll find references to the Blackstone building and then to YMCA locations over on 71st or 75th street by south shore. They finally seattle down in the mid 50s over at this new building on 83rd and Ingleside. The minister in the 30s at St Pauls was a Rev L. Ward Bingham. You'll find a lot of references to him in the Trib but he retires in the late 30s (I'm working off memory here, not my notes) and the Church disappears from the news. Rev Cole picks things up in the mid 50s. He leads a big fight against an Alderman and then we have this new building. I imagine they were riding the wave of post-war Church going with the baby boom. All Souls has a history written by William Gough but it's mostly on the All Souls side rather then the Universalists. It was also written in 1970.

Re: Chicago's First Universalist Church
Posted by: Marvin (
Date: April 03, 2013 04:58PM

In the early 1960's I was a student at Meadville Theological School, then located at 5701 S. Woodlawn Avenue, and now in the Loop. I was assigned Field Work at First Univeralist. The minister was a recent Meadville graduate named Richard Nash. The Music Director was a very well-known Jewish musician and composer named, I think, Max Janowski. My vague recollection is that his major position was with a large temple or synagogue on the South Shore.

The congregation was definitely interracial. I was born in Norfolk, Virginia and then lived in Richmond, Virginia for many years. I had NEVER seen a black Santa Claus until Christmas of 1962, at the church.

I graduated from Meadville in 1963, moved to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada and lost contact with the church.

Marvin Evans

Re: Chicago's First Universalist Church
Posted by: QlassiQue (
Date: July 26, 2014 02:13AM

I recently saw an article on this church in the December 1954 issue of Architectural Record - it was designed by one of Chicago's best (and least-studied) firms, Schewikher & Elting. They would also design the 1958 Unitarian Church of Evanston on Ridge Road.

Also, Schweikher on his own designed the 1936 Third Unitarian Church at 301 North Mayfield, which is well worth a visit - the staff is proud and knowledgeable about their building and were happy to show me around when I visited.

Finally, Schweikher & Elting designed the first elementary school in Schaumburg, detailed here:

Re: Chicago's First Universalist Church
Posted by: davey7 (
Date: July 28, 2014 04:46PM

I love that the Third Unitarian is yelp rated... S&E are definitely under studies.

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