Wednesday, January 28, 2009

St Boniface Church - faces demolition battle...

Click on the image for enlarged view ....

St. Boniface Church ...
Address: 1358 W. Chestnut Street
Completed: 1904
Architect: Henry J. Schlacks ..
St. Boniface is colored-coded orange in the Commission on Chicago Landmarks Historic Resources Survey: “…a structure possessing historical and architectural distinction in the context of the immediate community.”

The church has not been in use since 1989 ...
Now it's in a subject of a contentious struggle between the Chicago archdiocese and preservationists ... Roman Catholic archdiocese wants to tear down the church, whereas the Preservation Chicago, seeks to rescue this Romanesque building from the wreck. A group of Coptic Orthodox Christians said they wanted to purchase the remaining St. Boniface buildings but the archdiocese never took their offers. In Dec. 2008, the archdiocese asked the city for a permit to raze the building, saying the cost of transforming the structure would be prohibitive ... However, The demolition will not happen right away, because the parish is rated "Code Orange" which means, the archdiocese cannot proceed with demolition for 90 days while the city weighs its request. That delay gives preservationists and religious organizations time to step in and save the building now priced at more than $2 million.

Read more: St. Boniface Church center of battle over Chicago archdiocese razings ..

St. Boniface Church was established for German immigrants in 1865. With roots in Chicago history that predate the great Chicago Fire of 1871, St. Boniface played an integral role in helping to reshape and rebuild its neighborhood and city by providing makeshift housing within the church buildings as well as clothing and meals for people whose homes had been destroyed in the conflagration ...

Built in Romanesque style, the church is defined by its three soaring bell towers. [The bells have been removed, since the church is no longer in use]... Their steeply pitched clay tile roofs makes it instantly recognizable for miles around. The base is made of rusticated ashlar block intersected by canted buttresses that extend down to the sidewalk. Detailing includes arcades, as well as intact rose window frames although their stained glass has long since been removed.

The history of the St. Boniface parish is significant as it provides insight into the social and political dynamics of the different immigrant communities who settled around Chicago Avenue and Noble Street from the 1860s to the present. St. Boniface fits within the historical and physical context of other formidable sights; The Northwestern Settlement House; Holy Trinity Church; St. Stanislaus Kostka Church; and St. John Cantius Church ...

# For more on the Ukranian Village.. click here..
# For churches, chaples and cathedrals in Chicago.. click here..

St. Boniface Church ..


Anonymous said...

In the mid-80s I visited St. Boniface and was immediately struck by the beauty and intimacy of its design. Around that time I also visited another of Schlacks' masterworks, St. Basil on Garfield Boulevard. Although St. Basil was built on a grander scale and in the Byzantine Revival style, you could see the same master's hand at work. These quickly became two of my favorite churches in the city.

Both St. Basil and St. Boniface closed around the same time, a heartbreaking but inevitable decision by the Archdiocese given their dwindling congregations.

Sadly, St. Basil was demolished about ten years ago.

My heart goes out to everyone whose lives are intimately connected to the churches all over city that have been lost.

By the way, I really like your photographs of St. Boniface, especially the one of the pigeons in the belfry!

Thanks for your post.

Anonymous said...

I went to this school in 40's and 50's for the full 8 yrs. Was married
in the church in Jan. of 70. It was
a beautiful church in a nice Polish

Jim Storms said...

I have searched the net high and low for pictures of St. Basil's on Garfield Blvd. I was baptized there and had first communion there. In 1959 we moved to the farther south suburbs, St Christina parish. I also remember a friend in the 1980's who had a book of older Catholic Churches in Chicago. It had pictures of the inside of St. Basil's. Any suggestions where I might look? I did find a postcard drawn image of St. Basil's, but that's it.

Anonymous said...

Try yhis book

Heavenly City: The Architectural Tradition of Catholic Chicago. It's supposed to have pictures.

Anonymous said...

I now live in Denver - where they scrape anything with architectural significance and beauty in favor of low rent developers.....but I called Chicago my home for 25+ years before moving. Chicago has always been known for its amazingly diverse and protected architecture. My hope is that the City sees the wisdom of denying the Catholic Church a permit to tear down such a beautiful building. How is refurbishing this Church outside of the Church's expansive wallet? And why can't the Church simply sell it to another party who is willing to restore it? I hope the City asks these questions and realizes the Church has some other motivation here and it isn't in the best interest of the local neighborhood and the City of Chicago.