The Story of the Old Stone Church
The Old Stone Church is the oldest church structure in the village, and served as the Lemont Methodist Episcopal Church for 100 years, from, 1861 to 1970. In 1970 the congregation moved into its new quarters, and deeded the building to the Lemont Area Historical Society. It now serves as the Lemont Area Historical Society's museum.
Methodist Sunday service and Sunday School were started in the town in 1857, and were originally held in the old town hall on Main Street. The congregation laid the cornerstone for the church on September 14, 1861, and opened it for services in November of that year. The cost to build it - $1,940.00.
The building, 35 by 60 feet, is made from Lemont stone tailings donated by the Brown Quarry which was located on the west side of town. The small irregular pieces of "tailings" or waste stone used in its construction make the Old Stone Church different from any other building in town. It required careful work to lay an attractive and sturdy wall, which was capable of weight bearing. The corners and stress areas were made of fancy cut blocks, but tailings, laid 22 inches thick made up the main walls.
The simple and restrained architecture is reminiscent of small New England churches - indeed, many of its early members were originally from the New York - New England area.
The Church was a center for community activities. It was used as a recruiting depot during the Civil War. It was also the site for reform activities, most notably by the Rev. J. Franklin Clancy, a Methodist minister who, during the wild and wooly days when the Sanitary and ship Canal was being built through Lemont (1892 - 1901), fought against liquor consumption and its ancillary evils of gambling, prostitution and political corruption.
To learn more about the history of the church building and the Methodist congregation, visit the Lemont United Methodist Church website history page.
Today the Old Stone Church Museum is a National Landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It also contains a rich collection of historical artifacts from Lemont and the surrounding area. The purpose of the Lemont Area Historical Society is to preserve the heritage and folklore of Lemont, and to operate the museum as a repository for memorabilia and artifacts. Founded in 1970 to save the Old Stone Church, the Historical Society is a not-for-profit organization that exists only through the support of its members.
Learn more about the Old Stone Church and the rich history of Lemont by becoming a Lemont Area Historical Society member.