St. Mary of the Lake church was designed in 1913 by Henry J. Schlacks, a Chicago native who is responsible over a dozen church designs. Many of these designs are in Chicago, but St. Joan of Arc church in Indianapolis is almost a twin of our church. Inspired by the Italian Renaissance style, Schlacks used three Roman churches as design influences. St. Mary Major and St. Paul Outside the Walls impacted the design for the building, while St. Prudenziana’s campanile inspired the bell tower. Our current church was dedicated on May 20, 1917 by Archbishop Mundelein.
The interior is finished with marble work by Ferdinando Palla of Pietrasanta, Italy for the altars, pulpit, baldacchino, shrines and statuary. Some of the marble, especially noticed in the altar and pulpit is pure white Carrara marble. Statues featured include St. Therese of Lisieux, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, St. Jude, St. Rita, St. Anne, The Sacred Heart, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, St. Agnes, St. Raphael, and St. Anthony of Padua.
The Last Judgement above the apse was painted by Gebhard Fugel, a prolific ecclesial painter at the turn of the 20th century. The paintings above the baldacchino are of the four archangels; Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, and Uriel. On the ceiling are paintings depicting the Kingship of Jesus and Assumption of Mary, these and the paintings of St. Joseph and St. Mary over the side altars probably painted by John Mallin, a Chicago artist who at one time had a studio in Uptown. Temistocle Lamesi, painted the 12 clerestory paintings of twelve individual saints.
During the nine years after the church building was completed, interior appointments were embellished and stained glass windows were installed. Designed by F. X. Zettler and constructed by the Bavarian Art Institute in Munich Germany, these window reflect scenes and themes important to parishioners at this time. Included are: St. Cecilia, The Immaculate Conception, St. Peter, St. John the Baptist, Mary and Martha, Christ Teaching in the Temple, The Last Supper, The Holy Family, The Flight into Egypt, The Nativity, The Wedding Feast at Cana, The Resurrection, The Assumption of Mary, The Guardian Angel, Our Lady of the Rosary, and The Annunciation.
The interior was further embellished with several icons painted by parishioner Joseph Malham and installed in the early 21st century. These include The Virgin and Child, St. Vincent de Paul, and The Madonna. Additionally, Mr. Malham restored the paintings of the four archangels.
The parishioners have maintained and updated our church over the years. Updating of the sanctuary occurred in 1976. In 1987 the entire church was cleaned, painted and re-gilded. In 2018 the exterior staircase, gathering area and fencing were rehabilitated.