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Shiloh Baptist Church To See New Life in Kenwood as Condos

By Sam Cholke | August 20, 2014 8:50am
 A new owner is planning to convert the former Shiloh Baptist Church, 4840 S. Dorchester, into 13 condominimums.
A new owner is planning to convert the former Shiloh Baptist Church, 4840 S. Dorchester, into 13 condominimums.
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DNAinfo/Sam Cholke

KENWOOD — Shiloh Baptist Church may get a second life as condominiums under its new owner.

The historic church has been vacant at 4840 S. Dorchester, facing the mansions of the Kenwood Historic District since the congregation left in late 2002.

According to plans presented to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, new owner John Liu plans to convert the church into 13 condominiums with an underground parking garage.

Liu declined to discuss the details of his plan on Tuesday, but said a comprehensive plan would be ready in about two months.

Ken DeMuth, a senior associate with Pappageorge Haymes Partners, said the architecture and planning firm is working with Liu on the project.

DeMuth also declined to discuss specifics at Liu’s request, but documents submitted to the city by DeMuth show the project will maintain much of the historic church.

In a report for the landmarks commission, Liu and DeMuth lay out a plan to restore the columned façade of the 110-year-old church.

Liu also has purchased the house to the north, where the report shows the entrance to an underground parking garage would go.

The city would get final approval of materials to make sure all plans align with the standards of the Kenwood Historic District.

The 27,000-square-foot church, with vaulted ceilings and heavy stone fireplaces, was designed as a temple for the Church of Christ, Scientist by Solon Spencer Beman, who was also the architect for the planned community of Pullman.

The last religious service was held in the cavernous 1,000-seat sanctuary in December 2002, and there were plans to try to keep the building publicly active.

Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef, Art Smith, bought the church for $400,000 in 2004 with dreams of creating a cooking school and community center.

By 2006, Smith had signed over the church for $1 million in a handwritten note to investor Zafar Hussain, who sold the property to Liu.

Hussain said Tuesday that he agreed in June to sell the church to Liu, who told Hussain he was planning condos for the building.

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