The Goddard Chapel was a vision of the Marion Women's club. They sought out Leroy Goddard who was an old resident and mayor of Marion. He agreed to build the chapel if they agreed to expand the cemetery, they agreed and did so by purchasing 27 acres. Leroy brought in an architect and contractors from Chicago and began constructing the chapel on June 12, 1918. This work of art that was built has become a main Historical site in Southern Illinois. Come soak up the history by visiting the Goddard Chapel.
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.
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.
If you would like to visit this beautiful chapel you can no longer just walk in. Due to an act of vandalism in 1989 you now have to secure a key and permission for a visit from the Cemetery Department Superintendent.
Restoring the Chapel – Great care is being taken to slowly restore the Goddard Chapel to its original beauty. The process is being handled with great care and careful selection in the processes used.
Weddings Bells – Being one of Marions truly historic locations and having the beauty and detail that comes with older architecture it had become a popular location for Weddings!
Keeping Memories Alive – Leroy Goddard’s 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.