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1. Universalist Church, 1867
230 East Galena Boulevard
Originally formed in 1842, the Universalist congregation outgrew their first frame church, and built this limestone church in the Romanesque style. Originally the church featured a steeple as high as the existing tower. It was removed when it became unstable. It has since changed denominations.
2. Trinity Episcopal Church, 1869-71
N.W. corner of Benton Street and Lincoln Avenue
Still occupied by the founding denomination, this native limestone church was constructed in the Gothic Revival style. The congregation was established in 1849, and services were held in the homes of various members until a brick Gothic style church was built at the northeast corner of Spruce and North Lake Street (demolished). By the 1860s, there were more east side members than west side members, and a movement was started to build this church at South Lincoln Avenue and East Benton Street. Many of the early members were of English descent.
3. First United Methodist Church, 1872
Southwest corner of Benton Street and Lincoln Avenue
The congregation originally founded this church in 1837 in the log cabin of Samuel and Phoebe McCarty. By 1843, a frame church was built for the 30 - 40 members at the current site. It was enlarged on two occasions before constructing the current building in 1872. Built of locally quarried stone in the Gothic style , features of this building include the arched windows, massive support buttresses (vertical masonry supports along the sides of the building), and stained glass quartrefoil tracery. The original spire was severely damaged in a storm and subsequently removed in 1951. Fire destroyed the original stained glass windows in 1953, and these have been replaced.
4. St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 1872
442 East Downer Place
Constructed in the Gothic Revival style, this church features two corner towers, Gothic arched windows, and buttresses. The rose window above the altar is nine feet in diameter, and was made in the United States. The other windows were designed by a German firm. More than 100 volunteers dug the trenches for the foundation by hand in less than three hours. The original congregation included many Irish immigrants.
5. Annunciation Church, 1875
Near Molitor Road and Church Road Intersection
This congregation was originally ministered to by the priests from St. Peter’s Church in Chicago until they were able to build their own church. Annunciation was built in the Gothic style using native limestone in 1875. Luxembourg immigrants were early members of the church.
6. St. Nicholas Church, 1882
302 High Street
A designated a local landmark, this Gothic Revival church was constructed primarily by German and Luxembourg immigrants. The congregation is now primarily Hispanic. Levi Waterhouse was the contractor for the church. Constructed of brick with limestone detailing, it features Gothic arched windows with beautiful tracery, stained glass windows, and buttresses.
7. German Methodist Church, 1887
Corner of East Downer Place and Anderson Street
This is the second church constructed by the German Methodist congregation. It was designed by local architect J.E. Minott, and the “design is taken from the German masters” (Aurora Sun, 1886). It has since changed denominations.
8. First Baptist Church, 1887
Corner of West Galena Boulevard and Oak Avenue
The First Baptist Church of Aurora had its beginning in 1837 when a small group of settlers began meeting in a school house near Big Woods. A few years later they moved to Aurora, and most of the congregation followed. The first church was a frame structure completed in 1854. In 1886 the original building was moved to the back of the lot and the present church was constructed in the Romanesque style. Stylistic features include the round arched windows grouped in three, and rough-faced stonework. It was designed by the Chicago architectural firm of Edbrooke and Burnham.
9. New England Congregational Church, 1890
Corner of West Galena Boulevard and Chestnut Street
This church was constructed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style featuring round arched windows and entrance, and a square tower with rough-faced stone arches supported by pillars. The Tiffany rose window was a later addition, and was donated by Hedley Jobbins. The congregation was originally established in 1858.
10. First Presbyterian Church, 1902
Corner of Downer and Fourth
Organized on June 13, 1858, the First Presbyterian church was initially located on Galena Boulevard. By 1874, they had purchased a lot and built a frame building on South Fourth Street. Having outgrown this facility, the current church was constructed in 1902 in the Romanesque Revival style. Features of the church include the arched Romanesque windows, and the corner turret with conical roof. The original prominent dome on the roof has been removed.
11. Our Lady of Good Counsel, 1909
620 Fifth Street
The first Our Lady of Good Counsel Church was built in 1909 in the Italianate style on Talma Street. With the expansion of the parish, a new church was later built on Fifth Street in 1952.
12. Grace Lutheran Church, 1917
221 Oak Street
The 1917 Neo-Gothic brick chapel at the corner of Oak and Cedar actually represents the first of several building phases along Cedar. It was designed by architect Eugene Malmer. The congregation was organized in 1869 when the Swedish Lutherans of Aurora tired of traveling to Batavia for services. Through the 1940’s, services were conducted every other Sunday in Swedish. When the new chapel was completed in 1967, the former sanctuary was converted to a fellowship hall. It is now the Luterana San Francisco de Asis church.
13. Balaji (Sri Venkateswara Swami) Temple, 1983
1145 West Sullivan Road
Padmashri Muttaih Sthapathi, a noted expert on temple construction in India, collaborated with Sri Subhash Nadkarni of Archiform Inc. in Chicago, and together they designed the temple. With a major expansion in 2003, it is the largest Hindu temple in the United States. Nadkarni explained that the temple was designed on the basis of the “Vastu-Shastra” science of architecture. Vastu Shastra identifies the temple with the universe. It is divided into either 64 or 81 squares. The square diagram of existence, measurable in space, is thus the metaphysical and cosmological plan of the temple. The main parts of the temple are the Garbhagruha or Sanctum, containing the images of God, the Vimanas, the towers over the Sanctum, the Ardhamandapa, the area in front of the Sanctum, the Prakara, the area around the Sanctum, and the Gopuram, the main gateway to the temple. The gateway is massive and magnificent so that when standing in front of it one is made to feel insignificant before the Lord of the universe. As one proceeds inward (Arthamandapa) leaving behind the grand carvings and decorations of the outside, one notices that the sanctum sanctorum itself is small and dark. One can only see the statue of the Lord when a light is lit up. This indicates that we have to leave the grand external world outside, direct our minds inward, light up the lamp of the knowledge there and behold the Lord within the sanctum of our hearts. The church includes a visitors’ center and cultural center.
14. St. Michael’s Roumanian Church, 1918
Corner of North Lincoln Avenue and Pierce Street
The early members of this congregation immigrated from the regions of Satu Mare and Salaj in Transylvania, at the time a part of Hungary. The current building replaced the original wooden church that was built in 1908. It is constructed in the Romanesque Revival style, and has been carefully preserved including the interior iconostasis. This is a screen with beautifully painted icons, columns, arches and pediments that separates the chancel space from the congregation.
For more information on the history of St. Michael’s, please visit the history page on the St. Michael’s Parish website.