Preservation Chicago has been working for years to prevent the loss of significant religious buildings including Shrine of Christ the King, St. James, St. Adalbert’s, St. Boniface, and St. Lawrence churches and Agudas Achim Synagogue. We have had some remarkable successes and some tough losses. Preservation initiatives, including the lawsuit to prevent the demolition of St. James which was litigated in Latin at the Vatican but ultimately failed to save the church, have encouraged the Archdiocese of Chicago to consider reuse ideas first versus a costly, multi-million-dollar demolition of these structures. St. James Church cost nearly $10 million to demolish, money that could have been spent elsewhere.
It now appears that these isolated church closings were the tip of the iceberg and that a tidal wave of church closings is coming. One initial estimate is that approximately 75 Catholic churches will be closed or consolidated over the next 10 years. Many of the churches targeted first for closure are the oldest and largest buildings due to their higher operating costs. Not surprisingly, this includes many of Chicago’s most extraordinary churches. Due to a 1987 amendment introduced by then Alderman Burt Natarus requiring owner consent before designating a property a Chicago Landmark, only a handful of Chicago churches have that designation. The following churches have been added to our rapidly growing Preservation Chicago Endangered Church Watch List.
- Holy Family Catholic Church, 1080 W. Roosevelt Road, Dillenburg & Zucher, Interiors by John Van Osdel (Chicago’s first architect), Near West Side, 1857.
- St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, 8237 S. South Shore Drive, South Shore, William J. Brinkmann, 1909
- All Saints – St. Anthony Catholic Church, 518 West 28th Place, Bridgeport, Henry J. Schlacks, 1913
- St. Ita Catholic Church, 5500 N. Broadway, Edgewater, Henry J. Schlacks, 1924-1927
- St. Mary of the Lake Catholic Church, 4200 N. Sheridan Road, Uptown, Henry J. Schlacks, 1917
- St. Barbara Catholic Church, 2859 S. Throop Street, Bridgeport, Worthmann & Steinbach, 1914
- St. Gabriel Catholic Church, 600 W. 45th Street, Canaryville, Burnham & Root, 1888
- St. Jerome Croatian Catholic Church, 2823 S. Princeton Avenue, Bridgeport, Christian O. Hansen, 1885
- Santa Lucia-Santa Maria Incoronata, 3022 S. Wells Street, Bridgeport, Ray Basso, 1961
- St. Therese Chinese Catholic Church and School, 218 W. Alexander Street, Bridgeport, William F. Gubbins, 1904
- St. Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Church, 4827 N. Kenmore Avenue, Uptown, Joseph W. McCarthy, 1917
- St. Mary of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, 1039 W. 32nd Street, Bridgeport, Henry Engelbert, 1889
- Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church, 653 W. 37th Street, Bridgeport, Patrick C. Keeley, 1885
- St. Adalbert Catholic Church, 1650 W. 17th Street, Pilsen, Henry J. Schlacks, 1914 (Mother Church of the South Side Polish Catholic community)
Archdiocese merges 2 South Side churches; action on 8 more coming Wednesday, Maudlyne Ihejirika, Chicago Sun-Times, 11/28/18