Chicago's Sacred Spaces in 360°

Tour of First Presbyterian Church in Lake Forest

First Presbyterian Church is the most historically, architecturally, and artistically important church in Lake Forest. Its history connects integrally to the history of the city of Lake Forest and its most important educational  institution, Lake Forest College (formerly Lake Forest University). The founders of the church also founded the city and college, tying the three institutions together in their intial years. The city of Lake Forest would not exist without First Presbyterian Church, because city-building and church-building were part of their shared mission.

First Presbyterian Church was founded in 1859 by settlers from Chicago's Second Presbyterian Church. The founders laid out and chartered the city, church, and college as a single place meant to serve as center for living, worship, and education. Its first building was completed in 1862, and the second (and current) building in 1887. Historically speaking, any visit to Lake Forest should include a visit to First Presbyterian Church. The names of city founders and leaders are literally written into the stone of the church.

Architecturally, First Presbyterian Church represents a a combination of Romanesque and Colonial styles. The simple and solid Romanesque style harkens back to the first Christian churches, and represents the antiquity of Christian tradition. The steeple, solid walls, and straight lines of First Presbyterian follow Romanesque models. The Colonial style originates in the nineteenth-century revival and nostalgia for the Puritan New England churches. Presbyterianism traces its origins to these early American pilgrim colonists. The steeples, angled roof, and ceiling design are all Colonial elements. One can recognize how the founders of First Presbyterian looked to both early Christians and the New England colonists as models, and contrast this with the Neo-Gothic churches in Chicago (for example, Fourth Presbyterian Church), which look to the High Middle Ages and Renaissance for their visions.

Artistically, First Presbyterian Church holds one of the finest collections of religious stained glass in Chicagoland. The central triptych window, Louis Comfort Tiffany's Resurrection Window, dates to 1902. The church has several other Tiffany windows representing the famous artist's modern stained glass style. Following a 1912 renovation, the church added work by Charles J. Connick, Franz Schroeder, and Henry Wynd Young. These later windows generally followed Neo-Gothic and even medieval artistic styles, showing the changing artistic tastes of the congregation.

Instuctions for Using the Tour

Click below to enter the tour. There are three versions, optimized for a regular computer display, mobile devices and handheld tablets, and VR enabled devices such as Google Cardboard.


When using a computer, you navigate with your mouse/trackpad. Using your cursor, you can click and drag to change your view to anywhere within the 360° area. Click on the arrows to move to different areas in the tour. You can also use the buttons in the menu bar at the bottom of the screen to pan in different directions, zoom, and change the various interface options. Go ahead and experiment. If something stops working, you can always reload!

As you move the cursor through the screen you will see some highlighted regions appear. Click on them to bring up informative popups. There are also a few “more info” buttons that also open popups. Just click on those buttons to open a popup. To close a popup, click inside the popup box.


On a tablet or phone, you navigate by moving the device (if your device supports gyroscopic feedback, which most do), or by dragging the image on the screen. Touch the arrows or highlighted areas to explore the tour. Touch the popup boxes to close them. Sometimes, depending on how you are holding your mobile device, you may not always face the same way as you progress through the tour. You can turn off the gyroscopic controls by clicking the small gyroscope image at the bottom of the screeen.

The tour works best in landscape (horizontal) mode.

On some phones you may need to lift up your phone to portrait mode, then back to landscape mode, in order to clear the menu bar at the top or bottom of the screen. 


The tours can also be experienced in full 360° using a VR headset, such as a Google cardboard. Once the tour opens, click on the viewer icon to active VR mode (see image on left). You may need to do this on a second screen (see image on right).

To navigate the tour in VR mode, point the small white crosshairs in the center of the view towards buttons or arrows.

If you are using a phone as a VR headset, it is suggested that you turn off screen lock and automatic dimming to avoid interuption of the tour.

On all devices, you can also navigate the tour using the control bar at the bottom of of the screen.


VR walkthrough of First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest, optimized for computer: http://digitalchicago.lakeforest.edu/dcfiles/zeller/FPC.html

VR walkthrough of First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest, optimized for mobile and handheld devices: http://digitalchicago.lakeforest.edu/dcfiles/zeller/FPC-mobile.html

VR walkthrough of First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest, optimized for VR devices, e.g. Google Cardboard: http://digitalchicago.lakeforest.edu/dcfiles/zeller/FPC-VR.html