History and Architecture

Building History:

The Preston Bradley Center is the church building for The Peoples Church of Chicago, and was built in 1926 in the heart of Uptown’s bustling entertainment district. The Classical Revival style building was constructed by well-known architect J.E.O. Pridmore (1867-1940), who also designed the Vic Theater and several nearby apartment buildings. Dr. Preston Bradley, who valued humanism, wanted a building for his congregation that was a modern space without the usual steeple and other trappings of church architecture. The Peoples Church has been housed here continually since 1926. Two of the building’s most striking interior spaces are the auditorium, which features two balconies and a mural by Chicago artist Louis Grell (1887-1960); and Mason Hall, with several murals alluding to Preston Bradley’s ties to the Masons.

In 2000, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Uptown Square Historic District. The district includes the neighboring theaters and shops built in the early 20th century that made Uptown an entertainment destination. In December 2016, Uptown Square, including the Preston Bradley Center, was designated as a City of Chicago Landmark District by the City Council, thanks to advocacy by Landmarks Illinois. The building is featured each fall in Open House Chicago, a Chicago Architecture Foundation event which opens hundreds of buildings with fascinating architecture and history to the public.

About Preston Bradley:

The Preston Bradley Center is named to honor the Peoples Church of Chicago’s illustrious founder, Dr. Preston Bradley, who served the church as senior pastor for 66 years, from 1912 to 1978.  The building was built and first occupied by Peoples Church in 1926, and has been continuously owned and operated by the church since.

Dr. Bradley was a progressive pastor and social activist. After being dismissed from the Presbyterian Church for a disagreement about infant salvation, he founded The Peoples Church. He was well-known for his stirring sermons, which were broadcast to millions over the radio, and delivered in person to a congregation of 4,000. Learn more about Dr. Bradley here