Emmanuel Presbyterian Church (Demolished)

Now demolished: Emmanuel Presbyterian Church

Architect: Edward D. Dart, 1965

 

UPDATE: This building has now been demolished.

 

From Blair Kamin's "Modernist buildings in danger of being lost" from the July 8, 2007 Chicago Tribune.

 

"... little-noticed modernist gems, such as Edward Dart's Emmanuel Presbyterian Church at 1850 S. Racine Ave. in Pilsen, could be smashed to smithereens with no public debate.

 

The church would be a real loss. Despite its modest size and lack of traditional ornament, this 42-year-old building, shaped by a distinguished architect whose firm designed Water Tower Place, has a powerful urban presence. I couldn't get inside because the gate in the rusting metal fence in front of the church is locked. But the American Institute of Architects' Guide to Chicago fills in the blanks: "The thin, angular, brick wall planes [on the exterior] appear idiosyncratic until you step inside to see how their careful placement catches the light. Inspired rather than hamstrung by the small budget, [Dart] made morning light the most powerful architectural element, casting it across the angled chancel wall to create a sense of shelter and spirituality."

 

Today, the church sits empty, a haunting presence in its otherwise lively neighborhood. According to Landmarks Illinois, a preservation advocacy group based in Chicago, Patrick Heneghan of the Heneghan Wrecking Co. of Chicago bought the building six to 12 months ago. Should Heneghan bring in the bulldozers -- he declined to return a call from the Tribune -- there is little or nothing preservationists can do to stop him.

 

A dozen years ago, the City of Chicago completed a sprawling survey of potential landmark buildings across the city and came up with an official database of 17,371 significant structures, from workers' cottages in Bucktown to Art Deco office towers on North Michigan Avenue. But, with a handful of exceptions, the survey stops in 1939. So postwar buildings such as Dart's aren't covered by Chicago's demolition delay ordinance, which requires city officials to put a hold of up to 90 days on the issuance of a demolition permit for buildings rated in the top two tiers (red and orange) of the color-coded survey.

 

In other words, these buildings get no hearing on whether they deserve a stay of execution."

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Taken on April 2, 2007