We've Moved

Ecology of Absence now resides at www.preservationresearch.com. Please change your links and feeds.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago Awaits Reconstruction

Last month while I was visiting Chicago I stopped by the Pilgrim Baptist Church at Indiana Avenue and 33rd Street in the Bronzeville neighborhood. Built in 1891 as the Kehilath Anshe Ma'ariv Synagogue, this Prairie School masterpiece was designed by Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler. In January 2006, a devastating fire struck the building, leaving nothing intact save the limestone and brick walls. The photos below show steel bracing against the street-facing walls. The bracing was required by the Chicago city government to prevent collapse into the public right-of-way. Engineers have determined that collapse is unlikely since the walls remain sound.

Although the church has yet to be able to start reconstruction, they have made some progress with raising money and securing the structure. In 2006, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich pledged $1 million in state funds to the church school (since the state can't directly fund the church) to rebuild. Earlier this month, after his administration gave the money to the wrong school, the governor pledged an additional $1 million on top of the previous pledge. Last year, Pilgrim Baptist chose architects Johnson & Lee of Chicago and Quinn Evans of Ann Arbor, Michigan, to design the reconstruction of the ornate Sullivan building. How much of the intricate interior gets rebuilt is undetermined, but the exterior should be brought back fully to original appearance.


Anonymous said...

Gregali got his hand slapped for trying to help out the school at St. John the Baptist on Delor with public funds. What's the difference?

LisaS said...

using public funds for religious institutions is illegal in any form under the Missouri constitution. that's why SLU had to go to the MO Supreme Court to protect its secular status, and thereby its funding for the new arena.

apparently it's not against the law in Illinois.