Who We Are

In 1831 six settlers from the residences clustering around Fort Dearborn responded to the call of two circuit riders, Jesse Walker and Stephen Beggs, to organize a “class.” Quickly the group outgrew the living room of the blacksmith’s family and they built a log cabin church in 1834 north of the Chicago River at what is now Clark and North Water Streets. In 1838, a year after the city of Chicago was founded, they floated the cabin across the river and rolled it on logs to this corner, Clark and Washington. This has been “The Methodist corner” in Chicago ever since.

By 1845 the congregation had grown large enough to build a more conventional brick structure with a spire reaching 148 feet above the ground. In 1858 the Methodists, committed to staying anchored on this corner in a rapidly growing
and changing city, did a bold, new thing: they built a 4-story multi-use structure. It had stores and businesses on the lower two floors and the church space on the upper two floors. When that church was destroyed by the Chicago Fire in 1871, the trustees rebuilt, using the same plan. It was in this fourth structure that Methodists from all over the country gathered in 1890 to hold the denomination’s General Conference.

In 1922 the congregation acted on a daring dream to build a Methodist temple in the heart of the city. They engaged the renowned architectural firm of Holabird & Roche to design and construct this present magnificent structure. Built of gray and white Bedford stone and mixing the grace of a French Gothic cathedral with the practicality of an American skyscraper, the Temple became the tallest building in Chicago when it was dedicated in 1924, with its spire reaching 568 feet above the street level. Today most of the first four floors and the basement are dedicated to church work. Floors 5 through 21 are offices, mainly used by lawyers since we are surrounded by city, county, and state buildings. (Clarence Darrow occupied an office on the 6th floor in the southwest corner). The 22nd floor holds a Methodist history display. The senior pastor and family live in an apartment on floors 23, 24, and 25. At the pinnacle of the building is the small, octagonal Sky Chapel.