History of the Church

History and Archives
In 1987 the History and Archives committee was formed under the leadership of Millicent Kreischer. For 20 years now a valuable church archive has been collected and catalogued according to a logical system formulated by Harold Hutchings, a professional archivist. Minutes, events, building plans, photographs, artifacts and other records are kept for easy reference and retrieval.


From History of First Presbyterian Church Lake Forest, Illinois, 1859-1984
In 1856 a group from the Second Presbyterian Church in Chicago came to what is now Lake Forest looking for a place to found a community centered on educational mission. Lake Forest provided an alternative to Chicago which was already becoming a rough environment in which to raise a family. In the late 1850’s the community had its beginning around the Old Hotel in Triangle Park. As a matter of course these earnest and committed Presbyterians founded a church for themselves on July 24, 1859: the First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest.

The first church building was erected in 1862. The building has undergone growth and change as the needs and size of the congregation has changed. The church has reflected the goals of its founders to live together as a community dedicated to a Christian life and to betterment on earth through education and benevolences.

From the very beginning education was an integral part of the life of the church community. Young and old attended Sunday School taught by the elders and trustees and members of Lake Forest University faculty. The children were gathered to form the Steady Streams Missionary Society which became a model for other churches and lasted 90 years. The first Vacation Bible School was held in 1936. A 3 day a week junior kindergarten began in 1964 that has expanded to serve 3 to 5 year olds today.

Music has been vital to the worship life of the church from the beginning. Early services included a volunteer choir accompanied by a hand-blown organ. A two manual organ was installed at the front of the sanctuary in 1886, a student from Lake Forest Academy was hired as organist and singing in worship was led by a professional quartet. A congregational choir replaced the professional quartet in 1939 and continues today. High school youth led a jazz mass in 1966. The current Casavant organ was installed in 1973 in the balcony where the choir is now placed.

From the earliest moments, “systematic contributions” were encouraged with particular Sundays designated for major benevolences. The list of benevolences increased over time with a goal of 30% of the total budget going to mission. All the women’s groups were combined into the Women’s Association who took over the annual spring rummage sale from the local YWCA to ensure benevolent support. In the 1970’s, a Day Care Center served children from Waukegan five days a week. Members are active throughout the county and larger community in many ministries that have direct effect on those served.

We look forward to celebrating 175 years in 2034.


700 North Sheridan Road, Lake Forest, IL 60045 phone: (847) 234-6250 fax: (847) 234-6283