Preserving Our Mundane: St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church, Gary, IN

St. Augustines exterior

Leading this new feature for Mid-Century Mundane is the campaign by the congregation of St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church to have their mid-century church listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural, historical and cultural significance. This effort is being led by parishioner Paula DeBois, who has amassed a large archive of documentation about the church.

Church sketch 004

The Church was designed by Edward Dart, a noted Chicago-based architect, who’s talented career (sadly cut short in 1975 at age 53) is seen in numerous religious structures, residential buildings and other sites around the region. In recent years several of his churches have been demolished or endangered so it is heartening to see a positive and proactive campaign for preservation.

Exterior #3 Hedrich BlessingHere, Dart designed for an influential black congregation, with an important history of its own. The completed church was actually a second draft as an initial design proved too costly for the parishioners. Still the final product is a wonderful, swooping design in warm wood and brick. Wood is the definitive element on the interior and gives the space an airy and contemplative quality.

St Aug interior

The National Register application is currently in review with a positive decision expected sometime this year. Congratulations are definitely in order to Paula and the entire congregation for recognizing the value of their mid-century building and their stewardship in making sure the church is appreciated and protected for future generations.

All images in this article are courtesy of Paula DeBois. Photographers are as follows: current exterior, Dart sketch: Paul DeBois; black & white historic images: Hedrich Blessing, current interior: Eric Shropshire Photography.  

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Church III

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10 Responses to Preserving Our Mundane: St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church, Gary, IN

  1. Paula M. DeBois says:

    Frampton, thank you for writing this wonderful article on St. Augustine’s ! It is a beautiful building and I hope that a visit is in your future.
    Paula M. DeBois

  2. David Hyndman says:

    Thank you for featuring St. Augustine’s on your blog. Paula is certainly to be commended. This is a small but active congregation that has a great love for their church home. The church and it’s people are a blessing to the community.
    Fr. David Hyndman, Rector

  3. Dharathula T Harris says:

    I appreciate the beauty of our history and the dedication of Paula Debois for keeping a legacy alive.

  4. Ed Little says:

    Many thanks for featuring St. Augustine’s and Paula Debois’ work on its behalf. The building is stunning. From a distance, the upswept roof looks like hands raised in prayer, and inside the worship space is warm and engaging. It is a blessing to sing God’s praises with the people of St. Augustine’s, a congregation as warm and engaging as the beautiful building in which they worship.

  5. William Mott,Jr. says:

    I have always been inspired by the internal and external architectural beauty of my childhood church!!! To boot, I have been imbued with the knowledge over the years that the ultimate blessing of this church has consistently been the unparalled beauty of the countless families within its structure that have faithfully served the Lord and the community at large!!!May you as a church family continue your good work and may God’s hand guide all that you do!!! Special thanks to you Paula!!! You make us proud. The continued best, William Mott Jr.

  6. Paula Page Avila says:

    There is much to be said for St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church, not only because it is a beautiful place of worship and fellowship, but also a truly unique and amazing architectural piece of art work. Growing up in St. Augustine’s, I can still smell the sweetness of frankincense and myrrh upon entering the sanctuary on Sunday morning. One is immediately filled with a sense of peace and reverence. I am humbly blessed and grateful for the foundation of faith that was laid for me in this place. From the sweeping curved redwood beams to the huge pipe organ in the loft, it is still as breath taking now as it was many years ago. The founders, one of whom was my grandmother Anna Washington, would be truly be proud of it’s pristine preservation to date, and how it has been well loved by it’s parishioners and leaders throughout the years. Although I have traveled and visited many churches in the United States, St. Augustine’s remains the ultimate beauty, with it’s stained glass windows and communion alter that beckons to all who enter it’s doors, providing a place of peace, warmth, quiet contemplation, fellowship, familial bonding, sanctity and prayer. Thanks to the founders and the architects Mr. Dart and member/architect Richard Johnson, who designed, laid the foundation and built this awesomely inspiring piece of artwork that has become so much more to so many. And a special thank you to Paula M. DeBois for bringing attention to a church that truly deserves to have it’s mark forever remembered in the National Registry.

  7. Henry James says:

    St. Augustine’s is truly a gem, a beautiful structure and a place which arouses beautiful memories of loving and caring people. Nice to learn more of its beginnings and history.

  8. John Littman says:

    Thanks be to God, Paula, and our members, I am very proud to be a part of the St. Augustine’s family.

  9. sharon tyler says:

    What a wonderful article – a special thanks to Paula for her efforts. It is wonderful to be part of this congregation and her history.

  10. Thank you for your blog on our extraordinarily beautiful house of worship. And a special thanks to Paula for her outstanding research. I love this church, my church family, and all that the church represents in my religious life.

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