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It is a luxury to sit on a bench in Raymond Park and in the warm sun or gentle cool breeze.
The eyes rest on the foliage as it moves and shimmers in the sunlight until the leaves have turned their individual colors and fallen, leaving us the calligraphy of the branches.
Summer or winter, spring or fall, the park is enchanted by the sheer beauty of the facade of the First Congregational Church on the corner of Hinman Avenue and Lake Street, with its elegant simplicity and symmetry.
When the church choir is singing, gentle melodies filter through the open windows to lift the spirits.
After parting with the First Congregational Church, one can turn toward the west and then the south, and there is the First Presbyterian Church at the corner of Lake Street and Chicago Avenue with its stone exterior. Its sheer beauty and boldly soaring spire next to the stone tower make a visual treat.
The tour continues with Lake Street Church, housed on the west side of Chicago Avenue at the corner of Lake Street. This complex of buildings with many facades extends north past the center of the block and west to the alley. There are religious and performance spaces; and multiple community-based groups give a general air of coming and going at all times.
The next attraction on this visual tour from the bench in Raymond Park is the former Christian Science Church on the corner of Grove Street and Chicago Avenue.
Exquisitely remodeled into the Music Institute of Chicago, the building in its new life has enriched the area with concerts, classes and a lively atmosphere.
Adults, teens, children and parents to-and-froing from lessons and concerts give a lively aura and add to the endless interest of the bench-sitter.
The spires must not be neglected, even when the churches themselves are out of immediate sight: The Living Hope of Calvary Community Church at Elmwood Avenue and Lake Street and the Immanuel Swedish Lutheran Church on Sherman Avenue and Lake Street. The distance disappears when the spires are in the picture from the bench.
For this reviewer, the one on the bench, the visual tour conjures many European cities rich with visual spires in many views. This is not to compare Evanston to Rome or Florence, Paris or Prague but to call attention to its unique beauty. The bench-sitter can look and enjoy, and, it is hoped, have a bon voyage.