Goddard Chapel 1918 – 1987 Recognition for Enlistment to National Register of Historic Places
Sunday July 19, 1987 Rose Hill
“Only character makes people different, not birth, not wealth, not position – Only CHARACTER.” Leroy Goddard
The beginning of the chapel was a project of the Marion Woman’s Club. The women proposed that such a chapel be created and found Leroy A. Goddard receptive. He countered with a proposal that he would build the chapel if Marion would enlarge its cemetery properties. The city complied by purchasing 27 additional acres to be laid off into burial plots.
The Chicago banker brought his own architect and contractors to Marion and the cornerstone of the chapel was laid June 12, 1918.
A time capsule which was a copper box placed in the cornerstone contained a brief biography of the donor, and a statement by Mayor E.B. Jackson and City Clerk George C. Campbell telling of the donation of the building. Other articles which went into the box included a statement about the part Williamson County had taken in World War I through the sending of 1800 of its men to the service, subscriptions to Liberty Loan drives, the Red Cross and the YMCA. There was a copy of the ordinance of the Village of Marion published in 1865, statement of the three Marion banks, a list of city officials from the time of the city’s beginning, a list of organizations in the city copies of the Marion Daily Republican, Semiweekly Leader, Marion Evening Post and the Egyptian Press, A copy of the New York Herald of April 15, 1865, giving an account of the death of Abraham Lincoln and a booklet entitled, “Marion, the Opportunity City.”
The chapel, valued at $20,000 at the time of construction, is built of Bedford stone, with art glass windows, and seats 200 people. The inside walls of the chapel are of pressed brick and the woodwork is of Flemish oak. The paneled ceiling, the pulpit and leaded art glass windows have the Easter lily motif.
Dedication of the chapel May 30, 1919 was attended by more than 5000 persons, according to the Daily Republican’s report of that year’s Memorial Day program. Foremost among them were Mr. and Mrs. Goddard who were accompanied by a score of other persons from Chicago. They included a noted quartet of singers and David R. Gibson, prominent Chicago photographer who presented the chapel Bible, a rare product of an English press.
The dedicatory address was by President H.W. Shryock of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
Having seen the chapel built and dedicated, Mr. Goddard maintained his interest in the chapel and his home town until his death in 1936 at the age of 81. He was buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Chicago, a cemetery bearing the same name as the one established for Marion when he was his home town’s mayor.
Leroy A. Goddard was born in Marion June 22, 1854. By the time he was 21 he owned half interest in a grocery store which he sold to start the community’s first bank in 1879. For nearly 12 years his was the only bank in the county. In 1890 he established the First National Bank of Mt. Carmel and was its president until Aug 1, 1892 when he became cashier of the Fort Dearborn National Bank in Chicago. He resigned as president of that bank in 1904 to become vice president of the State Bank of Chicago. He later served as president of that bank, as a chairman of its board. He held numerous positions in bankers associations and was grand master of Illinois Mason in 1904.
His name has been perpetuated in stone over the entrance to the chapel and is kept alive also in a sense by the Eastern Star organization which is called “Leroy A. Goddard Chapter” in memory of this man.