Thursday, May 27, 2010

Another Stade Church, but not just another Stade church

Midcentury architect Charles Stade didn't often break from his standard A-frame mold, but he certainly could do so when the budget and program called for it. This was certainly the case with St. John's Lutheran Church (W. Pratt, just east of Cicero), where Stade's typical A-frame model was discarded in favor of soaring vertical walls that frame a relatively narrow space.

St. John's is one of those pesky buildings that, today, is so obscured by trees and greenery that it's hard to get a photograph of the entire building. This is about the best I could do:



Inside, it's all vertical, though some basic Stade elements remain, such as an altered rendition of Stade's random cathedral glass, and those magnificent laminate wood beams.



As usual, Stade eschews most traditional ornament, but still decorates the space, using a celestial cosmos of floating globe lamps. The space is impressive by itself, but it's the globe lamps that really put it over the top, transforming it into a superb artistic work and also a fine representative building of its era.



Stade didn't do a lot of buildings entirely in brick, but here he shows a clear appreciation for the medium. Grids and rows of bricks project or recess, creating patterns in the wall. He uses randomly placed clinker bricks as wall decoration both inside and out. They give a human quality to these otherwise towering brick walls.


Even the cornerstone reflects the tall, boxy nature of the building.

Art within the church favors a sort of floating, variable-size font:




The Chicago Tribune of the era, which frequently profiled new Modern-style churches, is strangely silent about this one; thus I have no idea who the artist was.

Outside, a small projecting chapel wing reaches out to the west, at right angles to the main building; together, they form a small plaza space.


You might be shocked to find this view on the south-facing alley side of the chapel:


Turns out, Stade's design simply engulfed the 1953 chapel that was already on the site. What remains of the chapel's original skin appears to be a done timid, watery Gothic style; it was reskinned to work with Stade's vision. It doesn't seem like much of a loss, considering what we got in return.


hovaard said...

thanks for this. i am an architect and photographer and i drive by this building frequently and have also tried to photograph it, i think you did a nice job. and i have always wanted to see the inside, and know the identity of the designer.
i also appreciate you showing all of these nice mid-century modern churches that seem to be everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Stade, Dolan, Anderson, & Bonesz & Associates also designed and built our church It was their commission number 816, July 1, 1963. We are Southside Christian Church, 1329 E. Jackson Road, South Bend, IN 46614(formerly Indiana Avenue Christian Church). The design was based on a 1st century Jewish temple.

pastormark said...

Another Stade work is First Evangelical Lutheran of Lake Geneva dedicated in 1963. It is a superb example of organic architecture. They did not spare any expense when it came to building materials and it has stood the test of time - the field stone, laminate beams and specially designed hardwood pews still look great! The building was based on the Biblical doctrine rediscovered during the Lutheran Reformation - The Universal Priesthood of All Believers. Stade was very engaged in the whole project. He even met with the pastor 2 or 3 times a week for 2 months to make sure the building reflected truly Lutheran theology. The chancel furnishings also bear the mark of Schwidder. As the current pastor of First Lutheran, we are trying to be very respectful of the design as we look to expand. We have many of the original architectural drawings but would love to find some of the structural drawings. Does anyone know of any archives containing his work?