The History of St. Peter's
The impetus to form an Episcopal Parish in Lakeview was provided by a large group of local women in the 1880s. Their efforts to form a new parish were initially rebuffed, due to the presence of other prominent north side parishes. Diocesan financial resources were limited, and the Diocese felt that the Board of Missions would be hard pressed to find adequate funding.
The women, however, were persistent. St. Peter's first service of Evening Prayer was read read in the front parlor of Mrs. Charlotte Givens's home at 1734 Fletcher Street (now 624 West Briar Place) on May 28, 1887 (Whitsunday, or Pentecost). Under Samuel Cook Edsall and Frederic W. Keator, St. Peter's mission was organized immediately following that service. One month later, on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, arrangements were made for services to be held in a store front on Clark Street.
St. Peter's membership quickly expanded, making it evident that more substantial quarters were needed for the fledgling congregation. In 1888, a small wood-frame chapel (designed by parishioner R. D. Gallagher) was built on Fletcher Street. Continued growth stretched the chapel to their limits, and the parish began to search for a more permanent location. During this time Samuel Cook was ordained to the priesthood in 1889. St. Peter's also graduated from mission status to full-fledged parish status, and Edsall was installed as the first rector of St. Peter's on May 18, 1890 by Bishop William E. McLaren, third bishop of Chicago.
In August 1890, the present property on Belmont Avenue was purchased and the wood-frame chapel was moved to the new location, enlarged, and veneered with brick to serve as a temporary location while funds for the permanent structure was raised. Services were held in the chapel even while it was on rollers in November 1890. St. Peter's had 198 members by 1888, 583 members by 1890, and by 1894 it boasted of 1,269 members. Plans were soon laid for the new building.