Mt. Vernon, IL Register News - September 12, 1968
Submitted By: Mary Zinzilieta
LINCOLN DENIED USE OF OLD MT. VERNON CHURCH
A simple wooden church some twenty by forty feet in dimension was
home to several Mt. Vernon congregations between 1837 and 1908.
The photograph shows it in 1890 at which time it was the home of
Trinity Episcopal Church. Its location was on Eleventh Street,
now occupied by the parking lot between the Elks Lodge and the Fire
Originally built in 1837, it was used mostly by the First Methodist
Church who owned it, but occasionally it was also made available to
the Baptists, Presbyterians, Christians, Universalists and Episcopalians.
Episcopal Bishop Philander CHASE, of the Diocese of Illinois (the whole
state was a single diocese at that time) preached there in 1843 to the
resident Episcopalians, although the present congregation was not to begin
regular services until 1874.
For a time the busy building was used as the Jefferson County Courthouse
while a new one was being construction. It was during this period in 1840
that Abraham LINCOLN was denied use of the church - courthouse for a political
speech. He talked, instead, at a tavern yard now marked by a copper plate
in the 100 block on North 10th Street.
By 1853 the Methodists were ready to move, and the building was put up for auction.
On November 3, 1853 it was bought by Harvey T. PACE for $345 and then renovated
and set apart for the Christian Church which used it unitl PACE's death on
August 13, 1876.
Following PACE's death, the building was turned over to his grandson,
William PACE who sold it on January 22, 1877 for $450 to Dora CRANEL. It then
rapidly changed hands the next three years with Dora CRANEL selling it to
Mrs. Minnie ELENSTEIIN, - Mrs. ELENSTEIN selling it to Alonzo JONES, and
finally JONES selling it to E. M. SHEPHERD and R. A. D. WILBANKS who purchased
it on October 2, 1880 for $400 for the use of Trinity Episcopal Church.
Prior to the purchase of this building, the "homeless" Episcopalians had used
a one-room school house on Main Street near the present Appellate Courthouse
until May 26, 1878; after that they held services in the courthouse itself, -
then known as the Supreme Court, southern division; in 1880 they rented
Stratton Hall for their needs.
Damaged in 1888 Tornado - A scant eight years later the old building was
somewhat damaged by the famous and destructive tornado of 1888 which leveled
much of central Mt. Vernon. A new ceiling and floor were installed, the roof
repaired and things were more or less back to normal. However, in 1890 it was
discovered that the old bell tower erected by the Methodists had also been damaged,
and so it was removed, and the large cross visible in the photograph was erected
in its place.
In 1906 Trinity Church celebrated the paying off of the debt by burning the mortgage.
In this same year a new furnace was installed, and the quaint old double doors visible
in the picture were removed and a large single front door took their place.
In 1908 the cornerstone of the present Trinity Church building at Eleventh and
Harrison Streets was laid by the Rt. Rev. Edward William OSBORNE, SSJE, Bishop
of Springfield, the first services were held January 3, 1909. The old building
ended its days as a lumber yard office, and was finally demolished in the march
of pregress, marking the passing of an interesting landmark of the King City.