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Builders Of The Moody Memorial Church

Builders Of The Moody Memorial Church poster

Mr. John R. Fugard
Architect of the D.L. Moody Memorial Church and Sunday School Buildings

Before the Church Executive Committee engaged the firm of Fugard and Knapp as architects for the new church and Sunday School buildings it had been ascertained on careful inquiry that they ranked among the best architects in Chicago, having designed many notable structures, some in collaboration with leading New York firms. To their credit are the great Allerton and Belmont hotels on the Lake Shore Drive, the massive 19-story apartment building at No. 20 Cedar Street, four twelve and fourteen story apartment buildings, two on the Drive and two on Walton Place, two nine-story buildings on Scott Street, numerous theatres in various large cities throughout the country, the Hinsdale Sanitarium, near Chicago, etc., etc. Besides our buildings they have now under construction the great South Water Street Produce Market, which is to cost about $4,500,000.

Mr. John R. Fugard was born December 6, 1886, at Newton, Iowa, a small country town, of Scotch-Irish parentage, the family line extending to pre-Revolutionary days in New Hampshire. His early life was spent in town and on adjoining farm. He was graduated from high school in 1905 and the same year entered the University of Illinois, from which he graduated in architecture in 1910.

He married in 1910 and worked as building superintendent, draftsmen, etc., in various architects’ offices of the city during 1910 to 1912.

In 1912 he started in business in Chicago with George A. Knapp, who had just finished a course in architecture at Columbia University, New York. Jobs were few and times were hard for young architects starting in without money or friends, and there was a continual fight and struggle during the next seven years. Meanwhile the war came on, bringing with it an almost complete cessation of construction work in Chicago. The partners tossed a coin to determine who should stay and who should go. Mr. Fugard won or lost the toss (whichever way it might be viewed) and in January, 1918, had charge of construction for the housing project at Bristol, Pa., for the Shipping Board. In May, 1918, he was commissioned first lieutenant and was sent to camp in Virginia, and discharged from service in May 1919, as captain.

His construction work prior to the war was of minor nature, several school buildings in Iowa, several theatres, a church or so and many apartment buildings. After the war his business extended rapidly as above described.

Pastor Philpott and the members of the building committee in their contact with Mr. Fugard have found him in all respects as expected when his services were engaged; competent, energetic, fair, honorable, balanced, an able manager, alert to the interest of the church. We thank God for him.

Mr. J.H. Johnson, Building Contractor

Mr. Johnson, the general contractor on the new buildings was born in Sweden fifty-three years ago. He came to America at the age of fifteen and has been a building contractor for twenty-five years. Three days before he left Sweden he gave his heart to the Lord, February 8, 1887.

His church affiliation is with the Swedish Evangelical Free Church denomination, which embraces 222 churches, with headquarters at Minneapolis. His membership for over thirty years has been in the Swedish Elem Church, 60th and Peoria streets, Chicago. He has been a leading figure in his denomination, was formerly chairman of his local church board, and is at present vice chairman. He is also a member of the board responsible on the part of the Swedish organization for the Swedish-English course at the Moody Bible Institute.

He has built upwards of thirty churches in Chicago and elsewhere throughout the country, including the Grace Episcopal, of Oak Park, which cost about $800,000; St. Lucas Church, Evanston; St. Simon’s Episcopal; the Butler Memorial of St. Peter’s, Chicago, a large Presbyterian church in Jackson, Mich., and many others.

His greatest undertaking was the Battle Creek Sanitarium, now the largest in the world. Following the failure of the contractor who began the work, Mr. Johnson took the contract and finished it. He erected the Blackstone Memorial Library building at Lake Park Avenue and 48th Street, Chciago, and the addition to the Fine Arts Building on Michigan Avenue; a twelve-story building at 1142 Michigan Avenue; the South Side Trust and Savings Bank at 47th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, costing about $500,000; the Freeman Shoe Company buildings at St. Louis, costing over three million dollars; the buildings of the National Candy Company, covering a block square; the Heckley Art Gallery, Muskegon, Mich.; nine of the finest private residences in Lake Forest and Chicago, and many other buildings.

Surely the members of The Moody Church have reason to praise God that the general contractor on our new buildings is not only a responsible man of many years’ successful experience and clean record, but also a devoted Christian worker.

Mr. John A. Erskine
Engineer Superintending Construction of the New Buildings

Shortly after work on the new church was begun, the Church Executive Committee decided that a competent engineer should be engaged to follow the work from beginning to end, in the interest of the Church. It was arranged with the architects that Mr. John A. Erskine should be employed, and be responsible jointly to them and the Church.

Mr. Erskine was born in the Orkney Islands, off the coast of Scotland. He came to this country with his parents as a child, first to Springfield, Mass., later removing to Montreal, Canada. His father was a chemical engineer, a steel expert, trained in the famous Clyde Ship building yards at Glasgow.

Mr. Erskine was graduated from McGill University, Canada, as civil engineer, took post-graduate work in civil engineering at Cornell University, and specialized in mechanical engineering. During the world war he was in service under the Canadian Government from 1914 to 1917, as a Major of Infantry, and then Major of Artillery. On recommendation of the Canadian Government, he was given charge of the United States Ordnance Department, in Canada, as engineer and manager, and was in charge of the building of munitions plants costing $60,000,000. For about four years he was in charge of bridge construction throughout Western Canada for the Canadian Pacific Railroad Company.

He was also engineer in charge of construction of the Bloor Street Viaduct at Toronto, Canada, one of the largest in the world, about 1,700 feet long, with a span of 285 feet about the Don River.

He was engineer in charge of construction and designed the steel for the First Methodist Episcopal Church, Hamilton, Canada, which cost about $900,000, also of the Eaton Memorial Church, Toronto, which cost about $750,000.

He also designed and was in charge of construction of Sir Henry Pellett’s mansion in Toronto, patterened after Dundurn Castle, Scotland, which altogether cost above $3,500,000.