No other building type generates more emotion when threatened with demolition than a house of worship. Sometimes it is the personal connection that a community has with a particular church or synagogue or perhaps it is simply the beauty of the architecture that motivates a community to take action to save its religious resources. Preservation Chicago is no stranger to these kinds of community battles, having waged successful campaigns which ultimately saved St. Boniface Church, St. Gelasius Church and the Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church from certain destruction.
However, despite these success stories, numerous other houses of worship have not been so fortunate. Since 2003, when the enactment of the Demolition Delay Ordinance finally provided an adequate way of tracking the demolition of historic buildings, scores of important houses of worship throughout Chicago have been destroyed. There are numerous reasons why more religious buildings cannot be preserved as frequently as other building typologies ranging from a dearth of economic incentives to the legal ramifications associated with our constitutionally mandated separation of church and state.
Despite these challenges, Preservation Chicago is committed to ensuring the preservation of Chicago’s religious legacy by:
- Continuing to aggressively monitor vacant and abandoned religious structures throughout the city.
- Continuing to oppose inappropriate “preservation” solutions like “facadism” and building deconstruction and relocation.
- Continuing to pressure the city to amend the Chicago Landmarks Ordinance which currently allows owners of houses of worship to opt out of the landmarks ordinance.
- Proposing and advocating for policies that will encourage the resoration and repurposing of houses of worship.