In the early 1860's, Sarah Dunn paused to admire her work as she prepared an elaborate decoration for her family home in Waterloo, Iowa. It seemed that she heard an audible voice from God: "What are you doing to decorate your heavenly home?" Thoughts of perishing souls marching to an eternity without Christ flooded Sarah's mind.
In time Sarah Dunn moved to Chicago, and God laid it on her heart to open a mission Sunday School at State and 23rd Streets. It was here that she met and married Colonel George Clarke in 1873. Col. Clarke dealt in real estate until God gave him the same desire as his wife: To begin a rescue mission to minister the Gospel of Christ. On September 15, 1877, the Clarkes opened a ministry in a tiny storefront at 386 South Clark Street, in the very heart of the devil's territory. Seating capacity was about 40. A potbellied stove kept out the Chicago chill, and kerosene lamps supplied flickering light. Heartwarming Bible verses graced the walls, speaking eloquently of God's love.
In 1880 Colonel Clarke found larger quarters, at what is now 67 East Van Buren Street, in a building vacated by the notorious Pacific Beer Garden. Later, Dwight L. Moody, fresh from evangelistic meetings in England, suggested that the Clarkes drop out the word Beer and add the word Mission, and call it the Pacific Garden Mission.
Colonel George Clark
Sarah Dunn Clarke