THREATENED: Loretto Academy / Institute of the Blessed Virgin

Address: 1447 E. 65th Street, 65th and Blackstone Avenue,
Chicago (originally Jackson Park Terrace and Washington Avenue)
Architect: William P. Doerr
Date: 1905, with 1927 addition
Style: Flemish Revival/Flemish Renaissance Revival
Neighborhood: Woodlawn

OVERVIEW
Loretto Academy and The Institute of the Blessed Virgin (Mary) is a picturesque four-and-a-half-story building, with a three-and-a-half story addition, situated in Chicago’s Woodlawn community and a short distance west of historic Jackson Park. The area was known locally as “Carmelite Way,” with several former and present Catholic institutions including The Shrine and Institute of Christ the King (originally St. Clara Church and School and later St. Clara–St. Cyril, then St. Gelasius), Mount Carmel High School and the affiliation with this once prominent school for girls. After the school closed in the early 1970s, the Loretto Academy building served a variety of uses and has been subject to a long period of disinvestment and neglect. It is currently vacant and has fallen into disrepair.

THREAT
While owners and uses have changed over the past four decades, the building has been vacant and mothballed in recent years. In addition, vandals have removed much of the patinated copper cornice and fascia of the upper facades. Large blue tarps were stretched over the high gabled mansard roofs over the last couple of years, and these have become shredded over time. While the building appears secure, we are concerned that water infiltration from a leaking roof may be contributing to further deterioration of the building.

RECOMMENDATIONS
This remarkable building should be considered for a reuse by another institution or as residential housing. The community is in need of permanent, affordable housing, and its close proximity to several transportation lines makes it an ideal location for such a use. It could also be used in tandem with Mount Carmel High School, as it is situated across the street from Mount Carmel’s Athletic Fields on 65th Street and a short distance to Stony Island Avenue and nearby Jackson Park.

The former Loretto Academy Building is currently owned by Reverend Leon Finney of the Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church located in the Bronzeville community. Reverend Finney is also the long-time president of The Woodlawn Organization and the Woodlawn Community Development Corporation.

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