Dr. John Alexander Dowie’s first major achievement was the formation of The Christian Catholic Apostolic Church in 1896. By 1900 his vision and became a reality when he unveiled the map of
His utopian dream of a Christian community where strict regulations regarding social behavior and morals could be enforced. He would ban liquor, taverns, the selling of tobacco and other merchandise he considered being injurious to Christian health. He believed in salvation, healing, and holy living, and
By the end of December 1899, 10 square miles of land adjoining
The land could be leased only to the members of the
A civil engineer was given the task of laying out the city. Under Dowie’s direction, the streets were laid out symmetrically, with a great 1200-acre park named
The major thoroughfares would lead to the temple in the center of the city and each street was to be named for something or someone in the Bible. The street names were laid out in alphabetical order from the east starting with Aaron and to the west starting with
Near the temple in
Today, Shiloh House is the headquarters of the Zion Historical Society located at
Dowie Barn, also called Shiloh Cottage or the Carriage House is located at 2413 Elisha, across the street from Shiloh House. It was erected in 1902 at the same time as the house for the drivers and caretakers, horses and carriages belonging to and working for Dr. Dowie. The north side of the barn included the carriage house and stable, with an upper loft where fodder was stored. The barn was quite unique, having four solid oak stalls and a large ventilating shaft that insured a constant circulation of fresh air. On the south side of the building were three floors with apartments for the drivers, caretakers and their families.
In May of 1902 Dowie presented the City with an official seal preceded by an address: (partial excerpt below):
I hold my hand upon the lever of that which is, perhaps, the most important outward sign of a city organization, and that is the seal which I shall presently ask the mayor and the council to accept as a gift from the General Overseer.
“I am glad that we have reached this place, where very quietly the municipal government of the City of
Zion City Ordinance: Corporate Seal — That the common seal of the City of Zion shall be circular in form and be so constructed as to impress upon the paper the words Corporate Seal above and ‘The City of Zion, Illinois,’ below in the outer edge thereof, with a Zion Banner in the center, surmounted by the declaration, ‘God Reigns,’ such banner having the word ‘Zion’ below, and a dove with an olive branch above; a cross at the left, and a sword and a crown at the right, requiring that the same shall be and hereby is so declared to be the Corporate Seal of the City of Zion.” Look at the dove, which is the emblem of the Holy Spirit bearing the message of peace and love over the seas.
“The cross represents everything to us in Redemption, Salvation, Healing, Cleansing and Keeping Power.
“The Sword is the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. The crown is the crown of Glory, the crown of Joy, the crown of Righteousness, the crown of Rejoicing.
“I shall pass away — at the longest it will not be long but this seal is one that I hope will never pass away from Zion City, until the end shall come and a new heaven and a new earth be created.”
The first city election was on
Dr. Dowie surrounded himself with men of great talent and financial standings. Many experienced healing episodes and felt indebted to Dowie and his dream. With this support the city flourished. All economic, educational, social, political and religious activities were coordinated through church leadership. Besides residential homes, there was a manufacturing district to the east of the North Western Railway tracks (Bakery, brick kiln, Candy Factory Electric Plant, Lace Mill, Laundry, Lumbering Mill, and Printing Publishing House.
Dowie’s greatest achievement was to build a city of
And it took a dangerous turn when Dowie proclaimed that he was indeed Elijah the Prophet. It was about this time that Dowie after an ill-fated trip to
In 1906 Dowie was terminally ill, and the city/church properties were in receivership. Population was declining and unemployment rising. These crises led to confusion and disagreement concerning the policies of Dowie’s successor, Rev. Wilbur Glenn Voilva. In 1907, the same year that Dowie died, the church filed bankruptcy.
This man who used to live in greater ease and luxury than is available to princes, was now reduced almost to beggary and was not provided even with the necessaries of life. He then had an attack of paralysis and the feet under which he had said he could crush the Promised Messiah like a worm were disabled. His troubles unhinged his mind and shortly after he died in great misery and pain. In 1907 the City of