The Peoples Church of Chicago

941 W. Lawrence Avenue in Uptown... just West of Lake Shore Drive;  East of red line el at Lawrence stop

P.O. Box 408319, Chicago, IL  60640-8319     773-784-6633    fax:  773-784-6760    email:


                    "A Spiritual Home for People of Conscience"


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Landmarks letter.pdf

Second Friday!







~ Landmark Status ~


A Brief History

This congregation has a long history in Chicago, dating back to 1880, when the Reverend Hiram Washington Thomas brought members of his church into a new congregation called the Peoples Church of Chicago.  Rev. Thomas was evidently too advanced for his Methodist denomination, which had tried to oust him from his ministry.  He was one of a handful of progressive ministers in Chicago in the late 1800s who were part of an ecumenical peace group, and helped to create the first Parliament of the World's Religions in 1893.


This progressive spirit, this spirit of free-thinking, has always been a part of the history of Peoples Church, exemplified in the 20th century by the Rev. Dr. Preston Bradley.  The young Bradley was similarly invited to resign from the Presbyterian ministry in 1912, when he preached that unbaptized infants would surely not be condemned to hell by the God he worshiped. 


Ahead of their time...

Bradley, like Thomas, was certainly ahead of his time, in preaching a form of "positive thinking" (later made popular by Norman Vincent Peale) long before pop psychology was even conceived of, and in issues of justice - he spoke out against the KKK, marched with Jane Addams for women's rights, and with Martin Luther King for civil rights.  Bradley also was one of the founders of the early conservation/environmentalist group, the Izaak Walton League.


Bradley and the Peoples Church congregation built the structure at 941 W. Lawrence Avenue in 1925-26, and the church has held services here continually ever since.  It was built as the "Uptown Temple" with a hall designed for the Masons on the 4th floor, which instead has been frequently used as a theater by many different groups over the years, including one in which Bradley's adopted son played an important role.


Historic Art and Architecture

Edgewater architect J.E.O. Pridmore was selected to design the temple. Pridmore’s notable works include the Vic, Princess, Clark, and Nortown theatres, the recently demolished Adelphi Theatre, and the strikingly beautiful Manor House on Bryn Mawr. The temple he created for the Peoples Church has, as Bradley put it, “none of the architectural trappings of bygone ecclesiastical attitudes. There is no tower, no medieval chancels and naves.” Instead, the sanctuary was “an open room, airy, warm, inviting fellowship and the breezes of fresh ideas.”


The main Auditorium has perhaps the last mural painted by well-known Chicago muralist Louis Grell, finished in 1959, of an allegorical Jesus preaching to a crowd of contemporary rural people, with faces from around the world, representing the welcoming spirit of the church.


Mason Hall boasts a set of murals painted at the time the building was built, in neo-classical style, of scenes from an unnamed Middle Eastern site - a popular theme, in the 1920s.


Landmark Status - applied for

In the fall of 2013, Peoples Church sent the staff of the Landmarks Commission a request for our building to be considered for Chicago landmark status, and followed up with the nomination form in January.  Commission staff made a site visit here, January 22nd, and we were then invited to present our nomination to a subset of the Commission on February 5th.  After some time, we received a letter from the staff advising us that they were not going to recommend our building for Landmark status to the full Commission.  That letter is attached.


How You Can Help

Nonetheless, this building has both architectural and historic significance, and we are asking our friends to send us letters of support.  If you do, please give personal reasons why you support the Peoples Church - why it is important to you that its heritage and integrity in Uptown be preserved.  You're welcome to use any information on this website, of course!


Send letters of support to:

Peoples Church of Chicago

attn: Landmark Support

941 W. Lawrence Avenue

Chicago, IL  60640


Pastor Jean