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There was a time when county courthouses were designed to be much more than simple government administrative centers, where residents could conduct real estate transactions, pay taxes or contest a traffic ticket.


More than a century after Frank Lloyd Wright completed work on the Dana-Thomas House, his influence on local architecture continues to flourish.


 


Next time you walk around downtown Springfield, try to take in your surroundings in a different way. 


 


 

Anchored firmly to a corner diagonally across from the Illinois State Capitol, Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church is a downtown fixture that has resisted pressure to pull up roots and move.


 


 

Freelance photographer Tim Murphy of Springfield takes us up Interstate 55 this month for a photo essay of the Windy City. His images show the unique Millennium Park, the iconic John Hancock Center and more of the heart of the city. Here's Tim take on the experience: 


 


 

Stones arranged in the shape of a cross and set in plaster remind members of Christ Episcopal Church in downtown Springfield of the struggle for religious freedom.

The Anglican parish was chartered in 1887, and the congregation meets in the more than 120-year-old historic stone church at the corner of Sixth and Jackson streets.

 


Tucked away in a cemetery on Elkhart Hill is a tiny stone chapel that is the only privately owned and operated church in Illinois.



 

Laurel United Methodist Church has continued to grow and change while maintaining its midtown roots.


 


Unique building details, inside and out, combined with a rich heritage - including an emphasis on diversity - all make Kumler United Methodist Church one of the city's standout churches.


The architecture of St. Joseph Catholic Church, which celebrates its 135th birthday this year, is tailored to reflect changes endorsed by the Vatican Council II in the mid-1960s.


 

While Springfield area residents recognize Westminster Presbyterian Church by its imposing stone tower, the nation recognizes it as one of the creations of the premiere architectural firm of Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson of Boston.


 


Forget power lunches and power suits. Nothing really says power like steel, glass and concrete uniquely fashioned into a building designed to stand for the ages.


Back in the 1940s, the congregation of the Church of the Little Flower set up temporary quarters in a Quonset hut because building materials were in short supply and that was what was available.

 


The Cathedral Church of St. Paul has been described as a church that prompts one to kneel and say a prayer. It is that and more. It is a place of reverence and authority. It is a place that has an aura of power and a sense that the prayer will be heard and heeded.


Certain churches have a sense of majesty, an overwhelming sense of dignity and a sense of a greater presence - a sense so strong it gives instant peace.


Steeped in tradition, Temple B'rith Sholom's roots go 150 years deep into the community. The congregation's first temple was on Fifth Street, and the present location was built in 1916.


There is a calm, cool comfort about Central Baptist Church, 501 S. Fourth St. The church, with a rich history dating back to 1830, is across from the governor's mansion with a bang-up view of the gardens.


First Christian Church Disciples of Christ, 700 S. Sixth St., has an air of familiarity about it. People drive by and think they've seen it before, somewhere - but they may not be able to quite place it.


City residents build monuments to their government with ornate municipal buildings and courthouses. Some of the old opera houses or theatres have fantastic architectural features. But it is houses of worship that continue to amaze and astonish with the depth of their architectural details.

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