Sacred Heart Church Restored

Gazette Article by: Barbara Sholl
Appeared in the Gazette: Fall 1994

In 1897 four lots at the corner of Tower and Burr in Winnetka were purchased for $1,000 to establish a Catholic congregation for 1500 residents of Winnetka, Glencoe, Lakeside and the farms located in what are now the communities of Northfield and Northbrook. Sacred Heart Church was completed just in time for the celebration of Christmas Mass that year.

In 1908 that first modest structure was razed in order to build a larger church to accommodate a growing parish.  This church and adjacent school served the congregation for the next seventeen years. In 1928, after three years of fund-raising, a splendid Neo-Gothic building was built on the site of the old church. Over the years, embellishments and changes were made to the interior of the church, culminating in major renovation and redecoration in 1957. The new design was based in a marble panel carved by sculptor Joseph O’Connell titled, “The Vine and the Branches.” It inspired a color scheme to reflect nature: the brown floor represented the earth; walnut paneling, the trees; green walls, the leaves; and a dark blue ceiling, the sky.  Stonework was removed, as were the arches from under covers of wood, plaster and paint.

In 1994 from behind the great wooden doors of Sacred Heart Church, the sounds of tools and skilled workmen and artists have been heard on Tower Road. Capitals at the base of the ceiling arches are being restored, and the walls painted a creamy color. A new lighting and sound system, as well as a Gathering Room and re-configured altar and seating arrangement have been designed to improve the participation and comfort of church-goers.

Bill Sturm, an architect with the firm of Prisco, Serena and Sturm, has incorporated an abstract flow of nature in the renovation, still adhering to the theme of “The Vine and the Branches.”  Sensitivity to the form and shape of the building, emphasis on simple tones and elegant accents, and the choice of materials to minimize noise will create a more peaceful sanctuary.

Sacred Heart Parish will celebrate the reopening of its neoclassic treasure on Saturday, October 29th, 1994. The festivities will begin at 5:00 p.m. with the cutting of enormous red ribbons on the church door. Mass will be followed by refreshments in the Gathering Room and courtyard garden.

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