I discovered Streator's church while digging into the history of my grandfather's church, Saint Nicholas, in Joliet. In a paragraph documenting Orthodoxy in 19th century Illinois, a few sentences were devoted to the Orthodox Church of the Three Saints that began with the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
|The Russian church as it appeared at the 1893 Chicago Exposition|
|Orthodox Church of the Three Saints, Streator, Illinois circ 1904|
|The Alton Limited streaking across the Illinois prairie|
|What might have been a version of my Slavic procession in 1914|
Twenty years after I wrote this, thanks to the home page of the Lake Michigan Chapter of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society, I discovered more to the story. According to the site's author, Tsar Alexander III of Russia commissioned the church as part of the Exposition's Russian Pavilion. The entire Pavilion was built in a dark wood and was designed by the Tsar's favorite architect, Ivan Ropet, in a 17th century Muscovite style and resembled the palace in which Peter the Great was born. It was built and assembled in Russia, disassembled, then sent to Chicago where it was reassembled for the 1893 World's Fair. Once the fair was over, arrangements were made for the purchase of its façade, tower, and traditional ornamentation by the congregation in Streator, and again, it was disassembled, then reassembled at its new home at 401 South Illinois Street.
In 1910, the church building was sold to a Beaulah Baptist congregation. In 1916, the building was sold again, this time to a Polish Roman Catholic congregation and named St. Casimir. Over the years as a non-Orthodox church, all the Russian trappings of the building were eventually removed, and in the end every surface of the original exterior had been covered with brick-patterned asphalt siding. In 1964, St. Casimir Church razed this building to the ground in order to build a bigger church, citing its small interior and as well as general condition. The parish disbanded in the 1960s.
|The Three Hierarchs: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom|