I have always loved this beautiful old chapel. As early as four or five years old, I can remember staring out the car window in excitement and maybe with just a touch of trepidation as I waited to get my first glimpse of it anytime my parents drove down Route 37. It became even more interesting to me when I discovered that it was built by an ancestor of mine and that the two most prominent tombstones on either side are ancestors too.
I have been planning this image for a long time. It could be called, "Memories of my Youth", for when cemeteries were scary places to visit. In my mind's eye as a five year old, this is what the Goddard Chapel looks like...
Built in 1918, the chapel was originally a project proposed by the Marion Woman’s Club.
Leroy A. Goddard, a Chicago banker who had served two terms as the Marion, Illinois mayor was receptive to the idea. He agreed to construct the chapel if Marion would enlarge its cemetery. The city agreed and purchased 27 additional acres for cemetery plots.
Mr. Goddard brought his own architect, John A. Nyden, and contractors down from Chicago to build the Goddard Chapel. Large enough to seat 200 people, the chapel cost $20,000 to build. It is designed in the Gothic Revival style and constructed of Bedford limestone with a red clay tile roof. The doors and windows are all set in a variety of Gothic arches; the doors are set within shoulder arches, the front window is in a depressed arch, and the side and back windows are set in lancet arches. The inside walls of the chapel are of pressed brick and the woodwork is Flemish oak. All of the windows are stained art glass and feature a lily pattern. Leroy A. Goddard’s name is carved in stone over the entrance to the chapel.
The dedication of the chapel on May 30, 1919 was quite a big deal with over 5000 people in attendance! The dedication address was given by Southern Illinois University at Carbondale's President at the time H.W. Shryock known today because the Shryock Auditorium on the SIU campus was named after him.
Mr. Goddard maintained his interest in the chapel and his home town until his death on January 22, 1936 at the age of 81. He was buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Chicago, a cemetery bearing the same name as the one established for Marion where his chapel resides.
Leroy A. Goddard was born in Marion on June 22, 1854. By the time he was 21 he owned half interest in a grocery store which he sold to start the community’s first bank in 1879. (The building is still located up on the Marion square.) For nearly 12 years his bank was the only bank in the county. In 1890, he established the First National Bank of Mt. Carmel and was its president until Aug 1, 1892 when he became cashier of the Fort Dearborn National Bank in Chicago. He resigned as president of that bank in 1904 to become vice president of the State Bank of Chicago. He later served as president of that bank, and as a chairman of its board. He held numerous positions in bankers associations and was grand master of Illinois Mason in 1904. A photo of Leroy A. Goddard can be found on the Marion, Illinois History Preservation website.
The city has been in the process of restoring the Goddard Chapel in anticipation of its 100th year. Because of the towering gothic arched doorways, new doors had to be handmade and cost $33,000 to replace both sets, far more than it cost to build the entire church 100 years ago. Pews are $1000 a bench just to refinish. If you would like to donate to the restoration project, the Southern Illinoisan wrote a nice article about the project last year; all contact information is listed there.
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I am the 8th photographer in 4 generations of my family. Back in 2006, my husband accepted a job traveling and I jumped at the chance to go with him. We have spent the last 11+ years traveling the United States.