• IdentificationTemple1
  • TitleWoman’s Temple
  • PublisherFrances E. Willard Memorial Library & Archives
  • Date1881-1926
  • Physical Description1 linear foot
  • AbstractThe Woman’s Temple was built through the efforts of the Woman’s Temperance Building Association to provide the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) with meeting spaces, offices, and rental space to garner income for the organization. The collection contains correspondence, newspaper clippings, financial statements and ledgers, invitations and pledge cards, and reports relating to the building and existence of the Temple.
  • LanguageEnglish

The Woman’s Temple was built through the efforts of the Woman’s Temperance Building Association, formed in July 1887. It was designed by the architectural firm of Burnham and Root and built in 1892. Its purpose was to provide the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) with meeting spaces, offices, and rental space to garner income for the organization. Located in downtown Chicago on Monroe Street and LaSalle Street, the administrative and financial affairs of the temple were led by Matilda Bradley Carse (1835-1917), President of the Illinois WCTU, who was an Irish immigrant and founder of the Woman’s Temperance Publication Association who became involved in the temperance movement after her son was killed by a drunken driver. She raised the original $900,000 capital by selling stocks to both businessmen and WCTU members, but the panic of 1893 led to less income from rentals than anticipated. Controversial from the beginning due to its expense, this controversy continued when Marshall Field, a major stockholder, took over the building in 1898. WCTU President Frances Willard’s (1839-1898) death in this year led to waning support for Carse (Lillian M. Stevens (1844-1914) became president of the WCTU in this year), and ties to the building were gradually severed. By 1908 the WCTU was leasing the land from Marshall Field for $40,000 per year, and had formed a Temple Trustees group to regain ownership and make the building a memorial to Willard. It was torn down in 1926.

The collection contains correspondence, newspaper clippings, financial statements and ledgers, invitations and pledge cards, and reports relating to the building and existence of the Temple. The bulk of the materials are correspondence and newspapers/newsletters and clippings, including full issues of The Temple Appeal, sent out to raise money and spanning the years of 1898-1910 (with numerous issues missing). Correspondence includes discussion about the building and financing of the Temple, including appeals for funds. Notable names in the correspondence include Frances E. Willard (1839-1898), Lady Henry Somerset (1851-1921), Lillian Stevens (1844-1914), and Matilda Carse (1835-1917). Two photographs can also be found in box 1. They each depict the “South Half of Temple on LaSalle Street” (as written on the back), specifically the offices of the Bank of Montreal. The collection contains photocopies of academic articles and histories of the Temple.

  • Subject
    • Woman's Christian Temperance Union
    • Temperance
    • Woman’s Temperance Building Association
  • Geographic CoverageIllinois--Chicago
  • Names
    • Willard, Frances E. (Frances Elizabeth), 1839-1898
    • Carse, Matilda Bradley, 1835-1917
    • Somerset, Henry, Lady, 1851-1921
    • Stevens, Lillian M. N. Ames, 1844-1914
    • Field, Marshall, 1834-1906
    • Burnham and Root