Whether you believe God or the devil is in the details, check out these images created at Chicago’s historic Second Presbyterian Church. Twice burned and rebuilt, this parish once served the city’s commercial elite with an address in the swank Prairie Avenue district. The famed architect Howard Van Doren Shaw himself was a parishioner, who played a major role in a 1900 rebuilding when fire consumed the interior. Left with a blank canvas upon which to leave their mark, Shaw and his collaborators transformed the English Gothic structure into an arts and crafts temple.
Dark paneling and muted, earthy colors cover the walls, setting the stage for a light show like no other. During the day, Tiffany art glass windows commissioned by wealthy patrons admit just enough sunlight to bathe the interior with a comforting glow. At night, art nouveau fixtures with antique style exposed bulbs add a punch of illumination and megawatts of style. Organic shapes are everywhere – flowers, leaves, pomegranates. Yes, pomegranates.
I was fortunate to have both my husband and son along for the visit, part of the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s open house event across the city. Between the three of us, we feasted on the details. We’ll be back for dessert.