CHURCH OF ST. THOMAS THE APOSTLE
The Church of St. Thomas the Apostle represents the effort on the part of those immediately concerned in its construction — your pastor, the building committee and their architect — to create a building at once practical, highly useful and architecturally expressive of our Faith. One of the primary considerations was that of location. The corner of 55th Street and Kimbark Avenue, because of the street cars, is noisy and disturbing to worshipers. It was therefore decided to place the Church on Kimbark Avenue and away from 55th Street and its street cars. This location, in addition to the practical matter of comfort, gives heightened architectural effect and impressiveness. The Church entrance, which is at the north end of the building, is about 90 feet from Kimbark Avenue which it faces. The distance permits of an impressiveness of appearance and a dignified approach which will augment the architectural effect to a great degree. It is planned to make this doorway a sculptured entrance of great beauty, the work of one of America’s foremost artists. It alone will be a possession of great and increasing value, as well as interest. Art works of this character have a value that does not pass, as they are freed from the fluctuations of style and fad. This we see demonstrated in Europe where the Cathedrals that have stood for centuries are the objects of artistic pilgrimage from all over the world because of the beauty of the sculpture and decoration: in glass, mosaic and stone.
The windows of St. Thomas Church are to be specially designed and an artist is now at work preparing the drawings of these. They are to be distinctive and artistic creations, without parallel in this country. The Way of the Cross stations, the Altars, Pews, Confessionals are all to be developed in this special way in order to produce a building of great harmony, so that it will be, in its way, like the assemblage of a great orchestra in which many instruments play, Lilt from which the tone issues clear and beautiful and united.
The arrangement of the Saint Thomas Church can best be grasped by a study of the plan which is in this issue of “Our Own Concerns”. There are to be no pillars to obstruct the vision and the seats are brought close to the sanctuary so that the worshipers will have a better sense of participation in the services at the altar. This will improve both seeing and hearing. The place for the choir and organ is to the rear of the altar and in the north end of the Church. It is commodious and well adapted for its purpose. The splendid choir that now renders the Mass in a religious and fitting way will, in the new church, be heard to adequate advantage and it may be expected that the beauty with which the services are conducted will then be surpassed by few churches. There is also a Winter Chapel at the north end of the Church which will always be open for worshipers. The Church proper will accommodate 1400 people.
The exterior of the Church is of brick with terra cotta enrichment. This terra cotta ornamentation is being developed by an artist of great talent and promises to be of unusual beauty and freshness of design.
The interior is to be treated in plain and ornamented plaster and stone. The surfaces are to be in all cases simple with richly decorated areas of glass and sculpture. It is to be a Church where the beauty, whether of structure, decoration or of music, is to be without distraction from the high purpose of worship to which the building is dedicated, a purpose which transcends the building itself and to which beauty is to be brought as a worthy offering.
FRANCIS BARRY BYRNE, Architect.
Our Own Concerns. Church of Saint Thomas the Apostle. Chicago, November 1922, pp. 25-27.