Originally constructed for a Polish congregation in the Pilsen neighborhood, St. Adalbert Roman Catholic Church is a Renaissance Revival complex designed by noted church architect Henry J. Schlacks, who worked for a time in the offices of Adler & Sullivan. It’s soaring 185- foot twin towers are the highest structures in the Pilsen neighborhood and easily recognizable.
The parish was founded in 1874. The earlier church structure was replaced by the current St. Adalbert in 1912. It is not only a fine example of Renaissance Revival architecture but also a chronicle of Polish history. The central figure of the church is a large statue of St. Adalbert and murals, stained glass windows and even the interior color scheme celebrate important Polish national heritage.
Fronting the street, the two buff-colored brick towers are ornamented with finely detailed terra cotta, pierced by arcades and capped by copper cupolas. Visitors enter through a portico defined by a series of polished granite Corinthian columns. Once inside, the interior is a soaring rectangular space based upon the form of Roman basilica.
St. Adalbert was listed on our Chicago 7 list in 2014. We are taking the extraordinary step of listing it again in 2016 as a bonus 8th entry because the threat has continued and intensified. The church’s towers have been under scaffolding for over a year, and in early 2016 the Archdiocese announced that St. Adalbert would be closed. The church’s members have been trying to fundraise to perform needed work on the towers, but the $3 million goal will be difficult to reach. Preservation Chicago hopes that by placing the building on our list again we can call attention to the threat and rally city-wide support for the preservation of this critically important neighborhood landmark and gathering-place.