Sunday Living Section - September 17, 2000
A clever little English chapel
The Unitarian Church at 1479 Hampshire has a rich history
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
A visit to the Unitarian Church at 1479 Hampshire is quite a treat and is proof that good things come in small packages.
The 86-year-old church is quaint mixture of styles that fall within the Arts and Crafts Movement. Tudor Revival and Craftsman elements are noted in the stone church as are touches of Queen Anne style. The combination creates what Quincy architect Harvey Chatten called, "a clever little English chapel."
The Unitarian Church was established in Quincy in 1840 and was called the Second Congregational Church. In 1912, the congregation started planning for its fourth meeting place. Although the church at 16th and Hampshire is commonly attributed to Chatten, church history says otherwise.
Church meeting notes indicate church members visited Unitarian churches in Missouri, Wisconsin, Iowa and Urbana looking for a church plan they liked and could afford. They also commissioned Chatten to draw up plans. Meeting minutes indicate that church leaders rejected Chatten's plans in favor building a church patterned after a Unitarian church in Kansas City. Church folklore also says the Green Street Church in Urbana is a mirror image of the Quincy church.(1)
The stone and stucco church was built for $17,719 in 1914. It is noted as an example of excellent masonry craftsmanship.
Its heavy oak main entry doors are situated in the low, unsteepled tower which has corner turrets and a Queen Anne "witches hat." The tower has clerestory windows above the entry and the second-story sections of the building are stucco with half-timbering.
Stained glass and painted glass windows create dramatic focal points throughout the church. The north window, honoring the founders of the Quincy church, depicts Indian Mounds Park with the Mississippi River in the background. A triple stained and painted glass window on the south side honors former church members.
With the exception of the modified Gothic chancel, the church's interior is Craftsman style and the wood is oak. Half walls of stone create a old world, country feeling in the sanctuary.
The Unitarian Church boasts the oldest organ in its original form in Quincy. It was built in 1875 by the prestigious Steere Organ Company in Springfield, Mass., and it is encased in butternut.
Originally the wind for the organ was supplied by a hand-pumped blower, and the bell for the "blower boy" is still in place, though today an electric motor does his work.
The sanctuary runs the length of the building and is separated from the large parlor by a wall of leaded glassed folding doors.
The parlor - the Heritage Room - has one of the building's two large stone fireplaces. It also has a dramatic wall of painted, leaded glass windows. One window shows the Pilgrims signing a covenant on the Mayflower and the other depicts William Penn and the Delaware Indians making a peace treaty.
There are only two second-story rooms in the small building. The tiny tower room is used today for meditation by the Great River Sangha Meditation Group. The second-floor rooms on the north are the pastor's study and office space. A full basement houses a large auditorium, Sunday school rooms and a curved stage that is well used by the children of the congregation.
(1) Instead, it is the Channing-Murray Foundation building at Oregon and Mathews streets in Urbana, IL.