Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-08-05
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Chicago church that hosted historic same-sex event demolished
by Tim Peacock
2020-07-08

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Following an extended effort to save the building, Misericordia Homes recently demolished the former Chicago Town and Tennis Club/Unity Church building at 1925 W. Thome Ave., in the West Ridge area of the city. Originally designed by notable architect George Maher and son Philip in 1924, the structure boasted "high gables, a slate roof and grand ballrooms," according to Preservation Chicago.

The building functioned as a tennis club for much of its early history. During the 1980s, it briefly housed an Elks Club and, thereafter, sat empty until Unity Church purchased the space.

Describing the structure and its destruction, Preservation Chicago Executive Director Ward Miller said, "These buildings by these really seminal architects that are so well known and so published—to lose one of those is the equivalent of destroying a great master work of art." He added, "I think we should be thinking of these buildings as works of art."

Although it's a historically notable building based on architecture alone, the building has the distinction of being the site where 40 same-sex couples married June 1, 2014, after Illinois recognized same-sex couples' right to marry. Unity Church led the services where those couples exchanged ( and, in some cases renewed ) vows.

When not marrying couples in a historic mass ceremony, Unity Church formerly held services at the building with a congregation totaling approximately 1,500 members.

That changed when Misericordia purchased the site—3.1 acres in total—in 2018. As a part of the purchase, it announced plans to construct 16 new group housing buildings that would provide both shelter and programming. That construction would necessitate the demolition of the Chicago Town & Tennis Club and its surrounding gardens.

Members of the West Ridge community as well as preservationists ( like Preservation Chicago ) worked ardently to save the structure from demolition, initially proposing repurposing the building.

"Some of the great buildings that would be among Chicago's most notable structures have been destroyed, and with each of these you're whittling away not only that architectural legacy, but you're whittling away community," Miller explained. "And you're also whittling away at what could be some wonderful buildings that could house some fabulous community services that could serve so many people."

He added, "And then of course there's the green side and the environmental side of this whole argument. The greenest building is the one we have standing. Why should we fill our landfills with these marvelous works of art when we can repurpose them?"

Miller noted that Preservation Chicago highlighted the buildings "orange-rated" historical status as one of the stronger arguments his organization used in an attempt to convince Misericordia to preserve the building.

According to Miller, being "'orange-rated" means the building was "determined to be significant by not only [Preservation Chicago], but by the city of Chicago in a survey called the Chicago Historic Resources Survey ( CHRS ). It was published in 1996 as part of a decade long plus survey and canvas of the city."

CHRS categorizes approximately 9,600 structures in the city as "orange," based on "some architectural feature or historical association that made them potentially significant in the context of the surrounding community."

While it initially considered the idea, ultimately Misericordia rejected the proposal to renovate or repurpose the structure.

Misericordia gave Unity Church substantial time to move, during which preservationists continued their attempts to save the structure.

One of those proposals involved purchasing the building and moving it 250 feet to a nearby park that was originally a part of the Chicago Town and Tennis Club grounds before the land was subdivided. The new proposal would have re-purposed the building to be a park field house.

At a meeting Ald. Andre Vasquez hosted June 17, Preservation Chicago proposed moving the building to Emerson Park. The meeting marked the end of the final 90-day review window ( a landmark status review required before demolition of any orange-rated building ). This review window was the last of several following extensions due to the holidays and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Chicago Park District showed some interest in the proposal but did not have the money to move or staff the building. Although Preservation Chicago offered to raise funds and provide the money required for both, ultimately Misericordia rejected the final preservation proposal.

Commenting on the decision to move forward with the demolition Kevin Connelly, assistant executive director of Misericordia, said, "We bought [the building grounds] with one purpose in mind, and that was to serve as many adults and children with developmental disabilities as possible." He added, "We have waited two-and-a-half years. We feel we have been as neighborly as possible."

The following morning Misericordia began demolishing the building.

Offering final comments on landmarks around Chicago, Miller said, "A landmark building is not just ... a museum piece—it's a living landmark." He added, "We all share these treasures—these amazing treasures. And I think if we start looking at landmarks from that perspective and less from the museum idea, but as living landmarks—works of art—buildings that can be adaptively reused, creatively reused time and time again. That's what it's really about at the end of the day."


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

The Crib, Night Ministry move to Bucktown 2020-07-14 - Nine years after it began operations in the basement of Lakeview Lutheran Church, The Crib—The Night Ministry's overnight shelter for young adults—has reopened ...


Gay News

SCOTUS provides exemption for religious schools from bias lawsuits 2020-07-08 - On July 8, the U.S. Supreme Court ( SCOTUS ) ruled seven to two in favor of two California religious schools that argued ...


Gay News

Rev. Stan Sloan to leave Family Equality 2020-06-30 - The Rev. Stan Sloan—who, at one time, led the local organization Chicago House—will step down as CEO of the national group Family Equality ...


Gay News

Lighthouse hosting virtual Black Queer Pride on July 3-5 2020-06-30 - On July 3-5, Lighthouse Foundation will host a virtual Black Queer Pride in celebration of the organization's first-year anniversary. The organization aims ...


Gay News

Groups respond to Indianapolis archdiocese's anti-trans guidelines 2020-06-25 - Pro-LGBTQ organizations responded to news about the Indianapolis archdiocese issuing new guidelines warning that transgender students may not be able to enroll in ...


Gay News

Lighthouse Foundation event explores racism's origins for white allies 2020-06-24 - Lighthouse Foundation presented an online forum June 20 focusing on how white allies in the LGBT community can best focus their energies in ...


Gay News

Lighthouse offers June 20 anti-racism training for allies 2020-06-16 - Lighthouse Foundation, a social-justice advocacy centering its work on LGBT persons of color, will offer an online training June 20 aimed at white ...


Gay News

Lightfoot announces reopening guidelines for places of worship 2020-06-07 - Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Public Health ( CDPH ) announced guidelines for organizations to hold in-person religious services. ...


Gay News

Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois recognized by HRC Foundation for LGBTQ-inclusion 2020-05-28 - Oakbrook Terrace, IL — Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois ( LCFS ), the second largest community-based provider of child welfare services ...


Gay News

WORLD New HIV news, Catholic event, conversion therapy, Hungary anti-trans bill 2020-05-27 - A global trial stated that a new HIV drug injected every two months effectively reduces the rate of infection, and provides longer and ...


 



Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.