Our History


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Pioneer Days

Grace Episcopal was officialy formed in 1850 in the new little town of Freeport IL, although services had been taking place since 1842 with the wedding of Malvina Snow and Oscar Taylor. Regular services started in 1848, and were held above a store in the growing hamlet.

The first church was called Zion and erection of the first building began 1852. The building was finally completed in 1853, on the site of the current structure. Because rail service did not come to Freeport until the following year, the bishops had a hard trip from Chicago, on the winter roads, to come consecrate the chapel.

As the congregation grew in the 1850s, the building was enlarged but just when construction was almost finished, the structure was completely ruined by the tornado that struck Freeport on July 18, 1861.

Much of the social life in Freeport at the time revolved around the various churches, with activities for both men and women. One such example, listed in the local papers of the time, decribes an entertainment and supper given by St. Margrets Guild at Germania Hall being "worthy of the ladies of the Episcopal Church". They raised $160 to be added to the rectory fund.

The New Edifice

As the congregation continued to grow, it was decided another building was needed. The same ladies groups rallied together, along with subscriptions from the congregation to begin building the current structure. An architect from Chicago, Henry E. Starbuck, with a distinguished record in church architecture was commissioned and given the challenge of creating a large edifice on the 60ft. by 120ft. lot. The cost was estimated at $14,000 and was not exceeded. Designed in an "early-English" style, the structure was built from local limestone and furnished with an array of notable stain-glass windows. Construction was finished in December of 1887.

The congregation has continued to worship in the 1887 structure. Since its original building, the rectory was moved to a separate site, a basement was added under the church and a youth center recently added in 2001.