Second Presbyterian Church
Life Span: 1852-1871
Location: NE Corner of Washington Street and Wabash Avenue
Architect: James Renwick
The Second Presbyterian Church was built of grey oil stone in 1852. Its architect was James Renwick, the designer of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York and of “The Castle,” the original building of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.
The growth of the membership of this Church in 1858 was especially memorable, there having been added to the church-roll nearly one hundred persons, making a total of five hundred and eighty-seven since the organization of the Church. The church-building, on the corner of Wabash Avenue and Washington Street, was regarded at that time as one of the finest in the West. It was constructed of bituminous limestone, and was known as the “spotted church,” on account of the exudations from the stone of the dark-colored, crude petroleum. By the profane, it was known as the “Church of the Holy Zebra.”
Like Crosby’s Opera House, it was lost in the fire. Unlike Crosby’s, it was rebuilt, though not in the same place. It moved to its current site at 1936 South Michigan, close to the Prairie Avenue neighborhood where several of its wealthy parishioners lived.