Save the Church or Let It Be?

8 May

by Heather Gustafson-

Before attending SIUE, I graduated with my associates from Lewis and Clark Community College. During breaks I would spend a lot of time on the campus grounds admiring the beautiful architecture of the Main Complex, which is the building facing Godfrey Road. It is the original building from 1838 when the campus was Monticello Female Seminary. Beside the Main Complex is a church, which I found very odd on a community college campus and so I decided to look into it. The Godfrey Memorial Chapel was built in 1854 and originally located across the street in what is now a small shopping complex. The building, in 1979, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places for Illinois due to the fact that it was “one of the six most authentic copies of New England church architecture beyond the North Eastern United States.” It was moved in 1991 to the opposite side of the road on LCCC campus. I remember when I was younger, every time we drove past the church my grandparents would tell me how they watched the church being moved. At the time I didn’t believe them, I mean how could you move a building? The church is currently used as the music department for Lewis and Clark College, and appears to be in good shape.

I have made many observations over the years, which make me wonder if the chapel is being used in the most efficient ways. One observation I made during my freshman year at LCCC, when I was on a tour for orientation. The tour guide took us to each building giving a small description of the history and which classes were located in what building. However, she never mentioned any history about the church which I would assume would be a common question due to the fact that the college has no religious affiliations. Another observation was that the chapel of the building was never opened to the public (although it is open by appointment); all the music classes were held in the basement of the church. I find it a bit odd that the church was saved to be used as a roof for the music department. It’s a beautiful church and it’s sad that it isn’t being used to spread knowledge of the town or college history. It’s just there.


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