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1880s-Era Church To Be Demolished, Five-Flats Planned for Site

By Mina Bloom | March 9, 2016 1:52pm | Updated on March 9, 2016 1:56pm
 The church, 2750 N. Magnolia Ave, was issued a demolition permit Tuesday.
The church, 2750 N. Magnolia Ave, was issued a demolition permit Tuesday.
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LINCOLN PARK — An 1880s-era church at the corner of Diversey Parkway and Magnolia Avenue was issued a demolition permit Tuesday and will be torn down to make way for two new five-flat buildings — much to the dismay of preservationist Ward Miller, who called the move a "tragedy."

But Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) said the church itself, 2750 N. Magnolia Ave. is unworthy of saving.

She touted the fact that NOAH Properties has agreed to save the only piece of the property that should be preserved: the church's rectory, or parish home, at 2746 N. Magnolia Ave., which is designated "orange" in the city's landmark rating system.

"There's nothing significant about the church. No one in the community has asked us to save the church. It is an old, unremarkable building. It's just old," Smith told DNAinfo Chicago. "However, the rectory is lovely and we are going to save it."

Miller, executive director for Preservation Chicago, disagreed with the notion that the church is unworthy of saving.

"It's one of those beautiful churches you always admired when you drove down Diversey," Miller said. 

"It represents those types of churches that were really representative of early Chicago before and just after the Chicago Fire with those two types of brick tones that came together. It's a really nice representation of early Chicago churches."

Built in 1884, the church, which was most recently home to Bodhi Spiritual Center, is a masonry building that is reminiscent of other churches built after the Chicago fire of 1871, Miller said. An official with the church could not be immediately reached for comment.

Miller said he reached out to Smith's office about a month ago to suggest repurposing the church when he heard the rectory was on a 90-day demolition delay list. 

But Smith said he only asked that the rectory be saved, not that the church itself be saved.

While the design and style of the church is common for churches built in the same time period, Miller said the loss is significant because churches from that era are slowly disappearing.

"As time goes on, there's less and less of these out there," he said. "It represents a specific time and style of architecture."

According to county records, the church has not been sold yet.

It is unclear what type of homes will be built on the site. A representative from NOAH Properties did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Given the kind of development in the surrounding Lincoln Park and Lakeview area, Miller said it wouldn't surprise him to see "second-rate, cookie-cutter" structures go up in its place. 

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