St. Luke’s Buildings

newChurchWhen times are tough the members of St. Luke’s build for the future as they did in 1914, in 1928, 1973, and again in 2010.

The Sanctuary with Education Wing (1928), Architect: Elisabeth A. Martini (1886-1984), a woman who struggled mightily for recognition in her profession. She studied at the Pratt Institute and Columbia University in New York City and became the first fully licensed woman architect in Illinois. Initially, Ninety architecture firms rejected her application for employment.  Out of desperation, she decided to apply as a stenographer in order to gain entry into a firm where she was finally able to display her skills. After 1914, she maintained her own office and founded the Chicago Drafting Club for women architects. Most of Martini”s work was in design for homes.  She contributed articles to Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, including one in the 1928 edition called “Five Ways to Beauty in and Old Home.” Martini was a member of the St. Luke’s congregation where she taught children in the Sunday School. At the time of construction, the congregation did not have the money to pay her entire fee but agreed to pay her $60.00 a month for the rest of her life. They continued to meet this obligation until she died at the age of 98 in Pleasant Hill, Tennessee. Elisabeth Martini worked with E. A. Nitsche in the design of the buildings.

The general design of St. Luke’s Church is adapted from the English gothic style of architecture of the perpendicular period, which flourished shortly before the Reformation in Germany and the simultaneous founding of the Lutheran Church. The interior stone walls resemble the stones used in Solomon’s Temple; the trusses are solid wood.

Contractor: Schmidt Construction Company

The pulpit and small altar are from the German Congregational Church where St. Luke’s first service was held; it closed its doors in 1916. In almost every decade since the original building was constructed, the congregation has built additions or remodeled to meet the challenges of aging buildings, changing codes, and a growing congregation. All of these changes have been made on a limited footprint. In 1938, Martin Wiederhold acquired the quarter sawn oak paneling behind the altar from the library of the Potter Palmer residence.

In the 1950’s the open gallery on the east side was closed off, as required by new fire codes, and August F, Freitag, Interior Decorations, 3447 N. Oakley, Chicago, IL, was commissioned to provide the murals. These commemorate the Second World Council of Churches Assembly held in Evanston, IL in 1954 using the theme, “Christ the Hope of the World.”

1995 Chancel Renovation. The new main altar came with the 1995 chancel renovation done in conjunction with the installation of the new Goulding & Wood pipe organ. The renovation was designed by E. J. Potente Liturgical Studios of Kenosha, Wisconsin. The herring bone floor is rift and quartered white oak, installed by Jim Schrop. The baptismal font was a gift from Mrs. Carl Grotnes and Mrs. George Cuttner in memory of their mother in 1929. Prior to this most baptisms were done in the homes of the baptized or the home of the pastor. Church records confirm this! The baptismal font lid was acquired in the early 1970’s. Its main purpose was to keep the water warm for the baptism. The designer is presently unknown.

In 1971, Fox Hall, a one-story addition, designed by Donald Sunshine and Thomas Jaeger, was erected to fill in the L. The congregation quickly outgrew this additional space. This 1971 building was demolished to make room for the 2010 three-story addition.

1995, the chancel area was enlarged to permit installation of a new pipe organ and a moveable altar. In 2004, some of the open trusses were covered to accommodate the air conditioning ducts that were installed.

Latest Addition (2010), Architect: Douglas E. Lasch of Jaeger, Nickola, Kuhlman & Associates LTD., designed the newest building. This three-level addition, replacing the single level 1971 addition, is designed to blend with the gothic architectural style of the original church and parish house. A two-story atrium space serves as a new focal point for the church, providing gathering space after worship service. The grand “pulpit” stair connects the convocation and fellowship hall spaces. Accessibility needs were achieved with a new entrance at ground level, ramp, and a dual-entrance elevator connecting the multiple floor levels. Two skylights were installed, which offer natural light for the Peter and Paul windows. Stained glass windows and wood grillwork from older buildings were incorporated into the new modern structure. This 2010 building meets the current congregation’s needs for accessibility, music rehearsal space, offices, and technology. The lower level offers room for future expansion. Tom Jaeger said that this was the first time he had demolished his own building of 1971 to erect this new one in 2010.

The processional cross and candle stands have been provided by memorials since 2000 beginning with the cross.  All of these items were designed by John Buscemi, a local liturgical artist and faculty member of Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois.

Off-street parking was acquired in the 1960s and again in the 1980’s. A rotating sanctuary foundation led to the replacement of the heavy slate roof with copper in the 1980’s. Piles were sunk in 2001 to stabilize the foundation under the west wall and major masonry restoration work was done in 2013.

View a slide show of the features in the 2010 building, Designed by Douglas Lasch of JNKA Architects. 

Off-street parking was acquired in the 1960s and again in the 1980’s. A bowing foundation required the replacement of the heavy slate roof with copper in the 1980’s. Piles were sunk in 2001 to jack up the foundation under the west wall and masonry restoration was done in 2003.

For detailed information about the stained glass windows see