Free open house at Frank Lloyd Wright-designed chapel in Belvidere June 8

Online Staff Report

BELVIDERE, Ill. — In coordination with the opening weekend of the Frank Lloyd Wright Laurent House in Rockford, the Boone County Arts Council will host a free Open House at the Pettit Memorial Chapel at Belvidere Cemetery, 1121 N. Main St., Belvidere, Ill., from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, June 8. June 8 is the anniversary of Wright’s birth in 1867.

The Pettit Memorial Chapel is a very early example of Frank Lloyd Wright’s emerging Prairie Style. The cruciform-shaped chapel building has the long horizontal lines, roof overhangs and dark-trim stucco walls that signify a near perfect rendition of this style. It is the only cemetery memorial designed by him.

Erected in1907 by Emma Pettit as a memorial to her husband, Belvidere native Dr. William Pettit, its purpose was to provide shelter to mourners attending burials, especially during inclement weather. With the advent of funeral parlors, the chapel fell into disuse and disrepair.

The chapel was restored in 1981 by the Belvidere Junior Women’s Club, after initiating fund-raising in 1977. Repairs are ongoing, and the basement — which was intended as a place to prepare the deceased for burial and for storage until the ground thawed — remains closed. The chapel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated as an Illinois Historic Place.

On special display in the chapel during the Open House will be several 3-D architectural models of Frank Lloyd Wright designs, including the Pettit Memorial Chapel. The models were created by Ronald P. Olsen, Janesville, Wis., an architectural craftsman/model-maker with a life-long interest in the famous architect’s structures.

For more information, contact Jean Twyning, Boone County Arts Council secretary, at (815) 988-4385, or Sam Larson, Belvidere Cemetery, at (815) 547-7642.

Posted June 4, 2014

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