Building & History

Our History

1957 The Unity presence formed in Oak Park when a small congregation met in a storefront on South Boulevard amd Rev. Warren Meyer served as the minister.

1965 The spirit was strong, as was the desire to have a permanent home. Unity of Oak Park moved to the historic location on Euclid Avenue where it still resides today and Rev. Ralph Rhea served as minister.

1967 Rev. Richard Billings began serving as minister. He had a Christian Science background, but became interested in Unity after serving in W.W.II. He spent two years working in Silent Unity before being ordained. He worked with ministers in Santa Monica and Detroit and had his first church by 1963 in East Lansing, Michigan. 

1992 Rev. Billings invited Rev. Helice Greene to be his co-minister. Rev. Greene had been a licensed Unity teacher at Unity of Oak Park before being ordained in 1982. She served as the Unity Minister in Fairfax, Virginia, for ten years before returning to Oak Park. She served with Rev. Richard until his retirment.

2017 Rev. Helice retired. Unity of Oak Park began a transitional period awaiting a new minister to serve.

2018 Rev. Linda Oglesby began serving as the Interim Minister. 

Our Historic Building

Architect George W. Maher designed and built this building in 1912 as a home for Mr. and Mrs. James Hall Taylor and their family. They paid $30,000 for the house and 1 1/2 acre site, a large sum in 1912. They lived and raised their family here until their deaths in 1951 and 1963 respectively.

Their children sold the house and grounds to Unity Church in 1965 for $84,000.

The style of the house is "Early Modern Rectilinear." It is broad, monumental, and dignified. Its Prairie Style characteristics include a hipped roof, pronounced horizontal features and bands of windows under deep eaves. When entering by the front door, the first thing you see is the beautiful arched window on the first floor landing. The geometric design on this window is repeated on all of the leaded windows and doors throughout the building. It is also repeated on the wall sconces and hall ceiling light.

The Building's Architect

The architect was George Maher.  He was born in 1864 and began architectural training when he was only fourteen in the Chicago office of Joseph Silsbee.   Frank Lloyd Wright was a colleague in 1887 and 1888 when he also worked for Mr. Silsbee.  They both left Silsbee in 1888.   

Maher opened his own office and was very successful designing Patten Gymnasium and Swift Hall at Northwestern University, Sears school in Kenilworth and hundreds of residences on the North Shore.  He designed Pleasant Home, now owned by the Oak Park Park District. 

Maher wrote many papers for architectural journals and was President of the Chicago Architects' Association in 1918.  He originated the "motif-rhythm" theory. He put it to use in this house in the art glass windows and fixtures.  The Hasbrouck-Sprague "Survey of Historic Architecture in Oak Park" lists our center to be of national or international significance and states that it "demonstrates a perfection of shape, form and plan which Maher was never to excel."

The Building's Rooms

Richard Billings Chapel: The former living room and used for classes and meetings. The built-in bookcases are original.

Meditation Room: Originally a sitting room. The high colored glass windows were already in the room when the church added the art glass in the door.

Book Room and Sunroom: Originally the dining room and the breakfast room.

Fountain Room: The former kitchen that now connects the original building to the sanctuary.

Sanctuary: Designed by Milwaukee architect Eric Canat and added in 1971. David Orth designed the podium in 1980. The atrium was added in 1994.

Second floor: Lends itself well to church purposes. The master bedroom area now serves as the Board Room, Administrative office and Ministers' office. The other bedrooms are used as a Ministers' office, secretary's office, Y.O.U. Room and Nursery.