After years of uncertainty, the modest red-brick Hermon Baptist Church at 1754 N. Clark Street in Old Town is going to become enveloped by the glassy the new home of Giordano Dance Chicago designed by bKL Architecture. The 54-year old arts organization, which boasts of being “America’s original jazz dance company,” plans to retain the historic building facade within a glass enclosure which will accommodate rehearsals and administrative space.
Michael McStraw, executive director of Giordano Dance Chicago, credited “the generosity of an anonymous individual donor” with expediting the sale. The building had been on the market for years and multiple offers from developers intent on replacing the church building with a high-rise had failed due to opposition from the community.
Preservation Chicago is pleased to see a good preservation outcome for this very early historic church building with fascinating ties to Chicago’s African-American history. “Named after a mountain outside Jerusalem, Hermon Baptist was founded by 13 African-American domestic workers who cooked and cleaned for Chicago’s Gold Coast residents. Tired of traveling to the South Side for church services, they launched Hermon.” (Bloom, DNA, 7/22/16)
Preservation Chicago believes that this is yet another example of how the arts and cultural organizations can repurpose and preserve former churches and religious buildings for generations to come.