Home Community Local Filming of Wilmette Church in ‘Home Alone’ Narrowly Avoided Denial

Local Filming of Wilmette Church in ‘Home Alone’ Narrowly Avoided Denial

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Local Filming of Wilmette Church in ‘Home Alone’ Narrowly Avoided Denial

Filmmakers wish to keep their projects under wraps. So it may well be difficult for municipalities to know what they’re stepping into when considering a filming permit.

Wilmette, though, like a few of its neighbors, has a history of ushering through such permits and the result has been an area source of pride, and perhaps none more so than the local church that plays a vital supporting role in a Christmas classic.

“Individuals are more than happy to see Trinity (United Methodist) church in ‘Home Alone,’ and that goes for all movies filmed here,” said John Jacoby, former Wilmette village president. “There’s something about with the ability to discover your individual community while you go to see a serious movie and say, ‘That’s us.’ It’s fun, and that’s considered one of the explanations the village has at all times been pretty liberal when accommodating filmmakers.”
A still from the vacation classic “Home Alone” that features Trinity United Methodist Church in Wilmette.

That leniency, nevertheless, wasn’t necessarily the case when Twentieth Century Fox approached the Village of Wilmette in 1989 and got here in front of the Village Board on Feb. 6, 1990, in accordance with meeting minutes provided by the Village of Wilmette.

Two trustees and Jacoby, the village president on the time, voted against the production company’s request to film at Trinity United Methodist Church, 1024 Lake Ave. Jacoby couldn’t recall why he dissented, and the minutes only note that “discussion followed” the motion.

The minutes also mention that the production company had to alter filming dates and were requesting either Feb. 22 or March 19, and the permit was conditional on further discussions with Wilmette’s village manager and the local police and fire departments.

Fortunately, the measure passed due to 4 trustees in favor, and filming began within the late winter of 2020.

Trinity United Methodist Church regally rises from the northeast corner of Lake and Wilmette avenues. Its historic and majestic architecture is a memorable sight in “Home Alone,” regardless that it only appears in two scenes.

Within the film, Kevin Mccallister (the kid left home alone played by Makauley Culkin,) uses the church’s nativity as a hiding spot to flee the “wet bandits” (Daniel Stern, Joe Pesci), burglars attempting to break into Kevin’s home. Later within the film, Kevin approaches the church for a respite, resulting in a pivotal conversation with Old Man Marley (Roberts Blossom) — the conversation contained in the church was filmed at a separate location, Grace Episcopal Church, 924 Lake St., in Oak Park.
The minutes from the Wilmette Village Board meeting on Feb. 6, 1990, when the board approved the “Home Alone” filming permit.

The enduring holiday movie has made an impact on generations, and other people come from throughout to go to the filming sites, lots of that are within the North Shore, just like the Mccallister home in Winnetka, Latest Trier High School in Northfield and Hubbard Woods Park in Winnetka.

Trinity Rev. Dr. Brian Smith told The Record via email that the church is pleased to welcome “Home Alone” fans all year long.

“The fans of ‘Home Alone’ represent all walks of life and span multiple generations,” he wrote. “The number of holiday makers increases somewhat in December when our outdoor crèche is on the front lawn. Most just take selfies and check in on social media. Some people time their visit during Sunday morning worship to peak at the attractive Sanctuary.”

Lindsay Noelle is one such visitor.

Also often called the Make It Fun Mom, Noelle took her two children on a “Home Alone” tour in 2022, stopping on the famed house on Lincoln Avenue in Winnetka, in addition to Hubbard Woods Park that also plays a task within the film.

The Noelles, in fact, popped by Trinity United Methodist and even took time to “hide” within the nativity — identical to Kevin.
Linday Noelle, also often called Make It Fun Mom, took this photo of her children within the church’s creche.

“My kids got a kick out of getting to cover like that,” said Noelle, who added she also found more holiday fun in the realm, like Pit & Tap’s Deck the Halls pop-up and the Christmas on Cleveland decorations at 1200 Cleveland St.

Though Jacoby was a Village official (village president starting in 1989) when “Home Alone” filmed at Trinity United, he doesn’t recall any unusual commotion across the event.

“Often, they wouldn’t even tell us the name of the film just a bit about it. It probably was like “A movie a few kid who gets left home over Christmas,’” he said. “No one knew that this was going to show into considered one of the blockbusters of the century. It attracted no more interest than any of the others.”

Jacoby mentioned other major motion pictures filmed in Wilmette “Odd People,” “Dangerous Business” and “Uncle Buck,” to call just a few.

He also couldn’t recall why Trinity was chosen as a movie site, but he had a great guess:

“I’m speculating, but it surely’s essentially the most beautiful church within the village,” he said.

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