Thursday, October 7, 2010

Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral designed by Louis Sullivan - Chicago, IL

Address: 1121 N. Leavitt St.
Year Built: 1903
Architect: Louis H Sullivan
Date Designated a Chicago Landmark: March 21, 1979

Designed to resemble the Russian provincial churches known to its first parishioners, this elegant church is an unexpected feature of its neighborhood. Even more surprising is the fact that its construction was partially paid for by Russian Czar Nicholas II. The walls of the church are load-bearing brick covered with stucco; the detailing of the two-story rectory repeats the same sinuous curve found in the roofline of the church. The ideologies held by the client and the designer harmonized well in this project, producing one of the most-inspired, small-scale works of influential architect Louis Sullivan.


The church was commissioned by the growing Russian congregation of Chicago, Illinois, and stands within the neighborhood known today as Ukrainian Village. It remains one of only two Orthodox Churches servicing the orthodox community in Ukrainian Village. Construction work, partly financed by Tsar St. Nicholas II of Russia, lasted from 1899 to 1903. The church retains many features of the Russian provincial architecture, including an octagonal dome and a frontal belltower. It is believed that the emigrants wished the church to be "remindful of the small, intimate, rural buildings they left behind in the Old World". Actually, the church would have passed unnoticed in the Russian countryside, if it were not for Sullivan's hallmark modern sensibility. The cathedral's interior is based on the St Volodymyr's Cathedral in Kiev. The church is highlighted in numerous books on church architecture, among them Chicago Churches: A Photographic Essay by Elizabeth Johnson (Uppercase Books Inc, 1999) as well as The Spiritual Traveler's Guide to Chicago and Illinois by Marilyn Chiat (HiddenSpring 2004). The church was consecrated by St.Tikhon of Moscow and was under the spiritual guidance of St. John of Chicago (Kochurov) during its early years.
The church was elevated to a cathedral in 1923, and stands today a member of the Orthodox community in Chicago. It serves as the Cathedral Church of the Orthodox Church in America with Archpriest John Adamcio as its dean.


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