Thorndyke Hilton Chapel in Chicago

Miss Mavis Emerson, daughter of Lottie Emerson of Kempton, and John Korff were married at 1pm Saturday, August 5, 1949 in the Thorndike Hilton Memorial Chapel at the University of Chicago with Reverend Robert E Tinker officiating. The bride wore a gown of white silk chiffon over white satin with a full skirt and front panel with imported lace.…….. And the article from the Pentagraph continues to describe the Maid of Honors dress, Arlene Gates from Kankakee, in explicit detail though I was fortunate to have pictures and a movie. My mother, Mavis Korff, was a secretary, my father owner of Glass Sales and Service at 6755 South Chicago Ave and began their marriage at 2148 East 81 Street. However, the story is about the quaint Thorndike Hilton Memorial Chapel where hundreds of Chicagoans were married. It was especially popular for weddings during and after World War 2. At the end of the article, couples are listed that you may know.

Thorndike Hilton Memorial Chapel was located at 5757 South University Avenue which was the former Chicago Theological Seminary building located at was adaptively reused to house instructional and research programs for the Department of Economics and the office, conference, and research facilities for the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics. The chapel was built in 1926 and was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Hilton in memory of their son, Thorndike who died at the age of 21.

Visitors to area could still take a break inside the chapel during the early 2000’s.
The seminary website said: “Our Thorndike Hilton Chapel is open twenty-four hours a day and available for students seeking a place to lead small gatherings or to spend time in individual prayer and meditation. The cloisters, a long corridor with one wall of glass doors that look out on the stone-terraced garth, is also a favorite place to reflect, especially during the afternoon hours when the hall is flooded with sunlight.” Dee Stribling talks about her visit to the chapel and though small, quite powerful. Its glory is in the stain glass windows that are exquisite.

Just to name a few that married at the chapel:

James Thomas Jones to Esther Mildred-1937, Shirley Stansbury married Robert Thomas – 1949, Dorothy (Dottie) Louise Watson married Howard Hilton-1948, Jean Hambly to Stuart Miller- 1946, Gwendolyn Lucille Cattorini to Walter J. Schroeder-1943,Gordon Lee Mennen to Teresa Harms, 1942, Ivan McDaniel to Lois Stansbury-1957, Kathyrn Marshall to Walter Taylor-1942, Elizabeth Law to Theodore Roberts-1953

EBay offers wonderful postcards of the chapel; some I own but there are some that are currently out of stock.

2 thoughts on “Thorndyke Hilton Chapel in Chicago”

  1. Thanks for this! Here’s a marriage for your list: My parents, Elizabeth Grannis Bartlett and Bradford Wiles, July 16, 1941. We (my sister and I) always made a point of going to Thorndyke-Hilton when she was in town. I’m still sad it was torn down to make way for a loftier building. It was such a lovely chapel.


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