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Pettit Chapel: Belvidere, Illinois January 12, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright, National Register of Historic Places, Prairie style.

Okay, enough of the politics nonsense. On, to hidden wonders, and not so hidden wonders, right in my own back yard.

Below is an image of the Pettit Memorial Chapel in Belvidere, Illinois. Belvidere is the county seat of Boone County. The chapel was designed by master architect Frank Lloyd Wright as a memorial for Dr. William Pettit. You can learn about the history and architecture of the structure in the chapel’s Wikipedia entry, which I wrote.

Built in 1907, the structure is one of the early examples of Wright’s renowned Prairie Style, with its emphasis on horizontal lines. The structure’s most interesting quality is the different appearance it gives depending upon what angle it is viewed from.

From the front and rear the structure possesses a peaceful symmetry, that blends seamlessly amongst the dead.

From its flanks, the chapel has a stark asymmetry, and distinctly modern feel.

The building also holds the distinction of being the only Wright-designed building constructed in a cemetery. Though, he did design a mausoleum that was built after his death. The chapel is set among the gravesites within Belvidere Cemetery.

Pettit Chapel is not the only architectural treasure found in Belvidere, there are others there, and all over northern Illinois. Stay tuned.

Online resources
*National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form
*Free use online photo gallery (by me)



1. James Anderson - January 13, 2008

Never seen this wonderful work before. The rear elevation with it’s ‘near’ symmetry and huge hovering roof over horizontal base ‘entablature’ is quite striking and monumental. Esp. with door modules flanking steps that ascend to a blank wall. I suppose a spirit walking through that wall would emerge right from the fireplace! An invitation perhaps.

2. dr. gonzo - January 13, 2008

Its amazing when your standing on the porch portion, which is open to the public. The feeling is hard to describe, it gives me chills, I love Wright. This is one of those lesser known Wright works, I love the way the he played with the symmetry of the building. If you like this I have a post upcoming about another lesser known Wright building. Thanks for stopping by. Oh yeah, the steps are great, I couldn’t have said it better myself. :)

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