Westminster Presbyterian Church
Life Span: 1857-1871
Location: NE corner Ontario and Dearborn
Chicago Tribune, February 21, 1860
The neat, new edifice just erected in the North Division, on the corner of Dearborn and Ontario streets, as their house of worship, by the Westminster Presbyterian Society, Rev. Mr. Spencer, Pastor, was dedicated to sanctuary uses on Sabbath afternoon lost by appropriate exercises, several of our city pastors sharing in the services.
The introductory exercises were conducted by Rev. J. E. Roy, of the Plymouth Congregational Church on Edina Place. The discourse was preached by Rev. Dr. Patterson, of the Second Presbyterian Church on Wabash avenue, from the text, Ps.96: 9— “O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” The dedicatory prayer wns offered by the pastor, Rev. Mr. Spencer. The exercises throughout were of on interesting and impressive character. The house was well filled.
The band of Christians who have thus seen the completion of an enterprise which has there long months past, occupied their hands and their hearts, which has been pushed forward during a season of great business depression, and now stands a monument of their enterprise and liberality, are to be congratulated for the possession of the same, by our entire religious public.
The church itself is neat, attractive and commodious, and, indeed, remarkable, as showing how much may be accomplished by a moderate outlay. It is a model that deserves to be studied by all religious societies throughout the Northwest who are intending to build, and who, while they must keep below a few thousands expenditure, will be astonished and benefitted by examining this new Westminster Church, and seeing bow much may be done with $3,000. In this respect we never saw happier success attend a church-building effort.
History of Chicago, A. T. Andreas, 1884
The Westminster Presbyterian Church.— Some time during the year 1853, certain members of the First, and Second Presbyterian churches thought that the necessities of Chicago required the organization of a New-School Presbyterian Church on the North Side, and in view of such proposed organization a few of the parties interested united and purchased a lot on Ohio Street, between Dearborn and State, fronting south, and eighty feet in width. Overtures were made looking toward the securing of the services of a minister to inaugurate the enterprise, but nothing took definite shape until in 1855, when the Rev. Ansel D. Eddy, D. D., of Newark, N. J., being in Chicago on a visit to a daughter, looked over the field, conversed with members of other churches, and with the pastors, and it was decided to organize. Accordingly a meeting was held at the house of B. W. Thomas, 206 Illinois Street, in July of that year, and there the necessary steps were taken. The two first elders elected were Colonel Henry Smith, from the Second Presbyterian Church, and W. W. Evarts, who had recently come to the city. Subsequently, but during the same year, Horace F. Waite was chosen Elder. The original members were Colonel Henry Smith, Mrs. Henry Smith, Miss Phebe Smith, Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Evarts, Miss Sophia Evarts, afterward Mrs. Rev. S. E. Wishard, Mr. and Mrs. B. W. Thomas, Mrs. Mary E. Wilcox, Edward P. Wilcox, Mr. and Mrs. George Gee, Mr. and Mrs. Elijah Smith, Mrs. Nancy Pitkin, Miss Louisa R. Pitkin, Mrs. Andrew Brown, and a few others. Among the first who joined the church after its organization were Mr. and Mrs. Horace F. Waite. The Session of the Church was constituted of the three elders already named, to which were subsequently added Henry W. King, J.McGregor Adams, Dr. F. Crumbaugh and Oliver H. Lee. Under the ministry of Mr. Eddy the Church made gratifying progress as regards additions to its membership, both by letter and by profession, and there united with the church some who are now well known as Presbyterians in the city: Mr. and Mrs. Henry W. King, Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin G. Page, Mr. and Mrs. William Springer, all from the Second Presbyterian Church. At first meetings were held in the lecture-room of Rush Medical College, which arrangement continued until about 1858. Some time during 1856, the lot that had been purchased on Ohio Street was exchanged for what is now known as the old Westminster lot, having one hundred and ten feet front on Dearborn Street, and one hundred and twenty-five feet depth on Ontario. A contract was entered into for the erection of a very large and expensive house of worship, the foundations of which were laid; but the panic of 1857 intervened, the subscriptions that had been procured, and which were only partially sufficient to carry the enterprise forward to completion, were found to be unavailable, and it was deemed inexpedient to attempt to proceeed with the erection of so expensive an edifice. The foundations already up some feet were sold, and a small frame building was erected on the south side of the lot, capable of accommodating about two hundred and fifty persons. Rev. Mr. Eddy continued the pastor about three years, when he resigned, and the Church was without a pastor for a considerable time. But religious services were generally held on Sunday and always on Wednesday evening. The Sunday school was continued during the vacancy in the pulpit, which was, however, occasionally occupied by strangers visiting the city until October 14, 1858. At that time Rev. William H. Spencer came to this Church from the Presbytery of Rock Island, and continued to supply the pulpit until his death, February 17, 1861. During the period of his services as pastor the Church was converted into a parsonage, and a frame building erected on the corner of the lot on Dearborn and Ontario streets, under the mechanical direction of Asher Carter. Although this was an inexpensive building, it was a model for convenience and comfort.
After the death of Mr. Spencer, the Church was again without a pastor until December 13, 1861, when Rev. E. A. Pierce, having a short time previously come to Chicago as a licentiate from the seminary, was ordained and installed. Mr. Pierce remained until December 22, 1865, when he received a call from Calvary Church, Chicago, and resigned his pastorate over Westminster. Under his charge the Church was blessed spiritually and materially. The Church was now for the third time without a pastor until in the spring of 1866, when Rev. David Swing was called. The call was accepted, and Mr. Swing was installed pastor September 27, 1867, continuing as such until February 6, 1871, when the relation was dissolved as one of the steps preparatory to a union of the North Presbyterian Church with this Church, the union being effected on the date last above mentioned, and the new Church named the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago. During Rev. David Swing’s ministry the Westminster edifice was again enlarged. Upon the union of the two churches, the united Church was called the Fourth, taking the number four which Westminster would have taken had it been numbered when organized instead of being called Westminster. Upon the union of the two churches, the united Church moved to the North Presbyterian building, corner of Cass and Indiana streets, in which it continued to worship until the building was destroyed by the great fire. Westminster stood until that time unoccupied, when it was also destroyed. A Sunday school was organized soon after the founding of the Church, but it is difficult to ascertain who performed the duties of superintendent previous to 1858. Probably it was W W. Evans. Henry W. King was elected superintendent in 1858, and under his direction, which terminated in 1862, upon his removal to Pennsylvania, the school was very successful. He was succeeded by Oliver H. Lee. who remained until the organization of the Fourth Presbyterian Church.
Westminster Presbyterian Church
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