By Anne Eickstadt

ANNE EICKSTADT PHOTO Belvidere Daily Republican
The Pettit Memorial Chapel was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and is designated as an Illinois Historic Site.


The Cemetery Association of Belvidere is the proud host of the Pettit Memorial Chapel designed by the world famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Built as a memorial to Dr. William H. Pettit, the chapel was completed in 1907.

Dr. Pettit was born and raised in Belvidere in the 1800’s and received his medical training from Hahnemann College in Chicago. He then practiced medicine in Cedar Falls, Iowa, for the next 27 years. In 1877 he married Emma Glassner, also a Belvidere native. Upon his untimely death in 1899 at the age of 48, a funeral service was held in Iowa but his body was brought by special train to Belvidere for internment in the Belvidere Cemetery.

Mrs. Pettit felt the need of a place in the cemetery where friends could gather for services and be sheltered from bad weather. She had taken a special interest in the improvement and maintenance of the cemetery grounds and wanted a proper memorial for her husband.

In those days, funeral ceremonies traditionally were held in the home of the deceased. Old records show that the Belvidere Cemetery wanted a building on the grounds in which to hold funerals.

Wanting a unique structure and familiar with the work of Frank Lloyd Wright due to her brother, who owned a Frank Lloyd Wright house; she contacted her brother who reached out to Wright in 1905.

Wright used straight lines and very simple detail, which was an extreme departure from the Victorian style that was popular at the turn of the century.

The chapel was designed as Frank Lloyd Wright was developing his Prairie School style, which is characterized by long horizontal lines, roof overhangs, and dark trim on stucco walls. The chapel is a near perfect example of this style because he was not limited by the use of the building. The chapel has a cruciform design and is unique in that it is the only cemetery memorial that Wright ever designed.

The chapel was completed at a cost of $3000 and was put to use as a place for services and as shelter from the…

For complete article, pick up the July 8 BDR.

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