Preservation Magazine, Fall 2016

Transitions: Saved—Shrine of Christ the King Church

photo by: Phil Velasquez

A 2015 fire destroyed this 1928 church's interior and much of the roof.

In each Transitions section of Preservation magazine, we highlight places of local and national importance that have recently been restored, are currently threatened, have been saved from demolition or neglect, or have been lost. Here's one from Fall 2016.

After a fire broke out at the Shrine of Christ the King (formerly St. Gelasius) Church in Chicago last year, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago announced that the damaged structure had been declared a danger to the public. The fire, which occurred during Phase 2 of a multimillion-dollar restoration of the 1928 structure, destroyed the shrine’s interior and much of the roof. The Chicago Department of Buildings issued a permit to demolish the Renaissance Revival building, but concerned community members (including a group called The Coalition to Save the Shrine), with help from Preservation Chicago and the National Trust, gathered more than 2,250 signatures in support of restoring it.

The effort drew considerable media attention. In February, the archdiocese transferred ownership of the church to the Institute of Christ the King (a local community of priests), which plans to stabilize it, at an estimated cost of more than $7 million, and eventually do a complete restoration. As of press time, plans for Phase 1—expected to cost $2.5 million—had been drafted, and about $1.1 million had been raised.

Katherine Flynn is a former assistant editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys coffee, record stores, and uncovering the stories behind historic places.

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