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Nearly 100-Year-Old Shrine of Christ the King To Be Torn Down After Fire

By Sam Cholke | January 5, 2016 8:45am

The altar of Shrine of Christ the King was spared in the fire. The Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago on Tuesday filed permits to demolish the shrine. [Courtesy of Shrine of Christ the King]

WOODLAWN — The Shrine of Christ the King will be likely be demolished after the Archdiocese of Chicago filed for permits to tear down the burned shrine.

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks on Thursday is scheduled to consider whether to issue the demolition permits for the shrine at 6401 S. Woodlawn Ave. that suffered severe fire damage in October after an oily rag spontaneously combusted.

A representative from the archdiocese was not immediately available to comment.

The congregation has been raising money to rebuild the church since the fire and as of Tuesday had raised more than $63,000.

In a message on the shrine's fundraising page, Rev. Matthew Talarico, the shrine's canon, said the archdiocese's insurance would not cover the damages.

The Institute of Christ the King only insured the contents of the shrine, which it rented from the archdiocese, under the expectation that the archdiocese insured the building.

Talarico said that a letter from the archdiocese says the engineering evaluations found the building has significant structural issues and repairing the shrine was "cost prohibitive."

He said the archdiocese has offered the Institute of Christ the King the option of building a new church on the site or moving into another vacant Catholic church on the South Side.

The church designed in 1923 by Henry J. Schlacks, who was inspired by Italian architecture, was closed and slated for demolition once before after a 1976 fire "well-nigh destroyed the interior," according to Christ the King's website.

In 2003, the community rallied to save the church and the archdiocese agreed to invest $7.3 million in the restoration.

The congregation has grown to more than 200 from less than 20 when the shrine was reopened in 2008 for services as the home of Institute of Shrine of Christ the King.

The institute will continue to rent the rectory and adjoining parking lot, according to Talarico.

The shrine is holding services at neighboring First Presbyterian Church, 6400 S. Kimbark Ave.

The eight priests in the rectory spotted the fire and all got out unharmed. [DNAinfo/Sam Cholke]

Canon Matthew Talarico said the archdiocese sent a letter saying its insurance would not cover the damage to the shrine. [Courtesy of Shrine of Christ the King]

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