Looking for something spiritual to do in Chicago that also qualifies as a tourist site? Every day except Sundays, the Chicago United Methodist Temple offers free 2pm tours of the Chapel in the Sky, purportedly the highest building floor in the world with a place of worship. Anyone interested can walk up the steps to the left of the church on the ground floor and wait for a volunteer to give the tour. There’s no religious message, just a nicely done architectural explanation and a history of the congregation and building.
The Chicago Temple is a mixed-use church and office building that stands 578 feet tall. It was built in 1924 and was the city’s tallest building for six years. The architect of the Chapel in the Sky was Holabird & Roche and it’s owned by the First United Methodist Church of Chicago. It’s located in the downtown Chicago Loop on the south side of Daley Plaza. Having already been recognized by Guinness World Records as the highest place of worship in the world (400 feet above street level), the Sky Chapel at the First United Methodist Church at the Chicago temple is filled with a hand carved alter depicting Jesus overlooking Chicago. This 568-foot tall skyscraper is the tallest church building in the world. It serves as a Neo-Gothic monument to the Methodists’ commitment to the Loop at a time when pressure was great to move to the suburbs. It is home to the First United Methodist Church of Chicago, the oldest congregation in the city. The tower houses the “Sky Chapel” at its highest level, a sanctuary on the ground floor and office space on the floors in between. Coffee and snacks provided prior to the walking tour. Free Tours are Monday – Saturday at 2:00 pm and on Sunday’s at 9:45 am & 12:15 pm – donations accepted.
Some info about the building and the sky chapel:
– Tallest building in Chicago from 1924 to 1930; surpassed by the Chicago Board of Trade.
– The building contains 3 sanctuaries: a 2-story main sanctuary on the ground floor seating 1,200; the Dixon Chapel on the 2nd floor; and the “Sky Chapel” below the steeple, 400 feet high.
– This is the tallest church building in the world, but the tallest actual church is the Ulmer Münster in Germany.
– The Sky Chapel is too small for most masses, but is commonly used for special events like baptisms, weddings, and funerals.
– The building contains one residential unit: a parsonage for the Methodist church’s senior pastor.
– The legendary trial attorney Clarence Darrow used to work on the 6th floor of this building.
– The Sky Chapel was installed in 1952 as a gift from Myrtle Walgreen in honor of her husband, the founder of the Walgreen’s chain of drugstores.
– The church’s congregation is the oldest in Chicago, dating back to a log church across the Chicago River in 1831. In 1838 the church was moved to this site.
– Another combination of a Methodist church with a skyscraper is the Methodist House in Hong Kong.
– A detailed model of the building is on display on the second floor.
77 W. Washington St., Chicago Illinois in downtown Chicago
ON SUNDAYS YOU CAN PARK . . . In the Imperial Parking “Self Park” garage at either 172 W. Madison St. or 179 W. Washington St. Pick up a reduced parking ticket from the security guard in the church elevator lobby. Our parking discount is limited to all day Saturday and Sunday and after 4 p.m. throughout the week for church events only.