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All Saints' Restoration Earns Preservation Award: See Before & After

By Patty Wetli | August 15, 2017 5:09am
 All Saints church is being restored inside and out. See the changes during Saturday's open house.
All Saints a Work in Progress
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RAVENSWOOD — The restoration of Ravenswood's All Saints' Episcopal Church has earned the building a prestigious honor from Landmarks Illinois.

The church, 4550 N. Hermitage Ave., was named one of nine recipients of the 2017 Richard H. Driehaus Preservation Award, which will be officially presented at a gala event in September.

The award honors "outstanding examples of excellence in Illinois historic preservation," with winners exemplifying "extraordinary stories of people saving special places," according to the announcement.

Built in 1884 and considered the oldest wood-frame church in Chicago, All Saints is an anchor of the Ravenswood community — at one point its bell tower was used to summon the area's volunteer firefighters to duty.

But by the 1980s, the congregation's membership had plummeted to just 30 parishioners and All Saints, having already survived two fires, faced the possibility of closure.

New leadership arrived in the 1990s and the reinvigorated congregation, now numbering in the hundreds, undertook the building's restoration in the early 2000s.

The project involved major structural work, including replacing the building's wooden foundation with concrete and stabilizing the bell tower with a system of steel straps.

In 2014, crews turned their attention to the church's exterior, which had been covered in stucco in 1917.

The underlying stick-style architecture — designed by John Cochrane, who's also responsible for the state Capitol buildings in Illinois and Iowa — was uncovered piece by piece and meticulously returned to its original beauty.

In honoring All Saints with the Driehaus Award, Landmarks Illinois said: "The completed restoration is now an outward reflection of the revitalization of the church’s membership and mission."