History of the Founding and Construction of the Church
Young seminary graduate Abraham Joseph Warner from Connecticut was sent by Episcopal Bishop Philander Chase in 1845 to “the Rock River territory” to establish a church. After traveling the region, Warner found Grand Detour a receptive location for a congregation. The parish of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church of Grand Detour was organized on May 15, 1847, and the vestry at once bent their energies toward a permanent church home. A contract for construction of the building was signed on June 4, 1849, and ground was broken on June 7, 1849 on a building site donated by Grand Detour village founder Leonard Andrus. The cornerstone was laid on July 17 of the same year. Reverend Warner, who served as the first rector, designed the church and its furnishings. Construction was completed on May 17, 1850. At 4:00 P.M. that day, Bishop Chase held the first service at St. Peter’s. The church building, a rare surviving example of mid-nineteenth century Greek Revival architecture, is the second oldest church in the Chicago Episcopal Diocese.
After the railroad bypassed Grand Detour, both commerce and population slowly left the village. Regular services at St. Peter’s became sporadic around 1900 and ultimately became non-existent, resulting in the slow decay of the structure.
Restoration and Preservation
In 1989, a group of concerned citizens of Grand Detour formed Saint Peter’s Church Preservation Committee, a 501 (c)3 not-for-profit organization. The goal was to oversee the restoration and preservation of Saint Peter’s as an historic landmark. In 2000, Saint Peter’s marked the sesquicentennial of its construction and the completion of its restoration by opening its doors once again to visitors from near and far. The church has been restored as closely as possible to the way it would have appeared when it was originally constructed. While Saint Peter’s has no active congregation, it continues its traditions as a venue for services and events for all groups and denominations.