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Landmark Chicago church will likely become an event space

Empty pews and bible

Lutsenko_Oleksandr | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 09/04/23

After recently being saved from demolition by preliminary landmark status, St. Adalbert's in Pilsen may be sold and converted.

A community effort to save a 100-year-old Chicago church spared the building from the wrecking ball, eventually convincing the local city council to grant the structure preliminary landmark status. The designation will protect the building from demolition and it may also get the city to pitch in for repairs. Now, however, the defunct church may yet be given new life, as a company that specializes in event spaces is in negotiations to buy the building. 

Aleteia previously reported that the preliminary landmark status of St. Adalbert’s, in the Pilsen section of Chicago, extends to several other buildings on the premises: the school, the convent, and the rectory. The status is focused on the facades of these buildings and leaves ample room for renovations to be made, if there is a desire to convert the space to another use.

According to Block Club Chicago, this is exactly what Anew Holding LLC is planning, as it has begun negotiating with the Archdiocese of Chicago to find an agreeable arrangement. The company has previously converted Temple House, a former Miami synagogue, into a catering hall. The site now hosts parties, music video shoots, and many other group events, and this would be the model for the former St. Adalbert’s as well. 

While the conversion of the church to a party space would ensure that the building continues to serve a function in the neighborhood, some members of the community are lamenting the idea of putting the former church to work in such a way. Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th), who was instrumental in gaining landmark status, told Block Club Cicago: 

“There’s no support for something like this, just given the huge need that we have in our community” for things like housing, childcare or senior services, Sigcho-Lopez said. “We’re going to put yet another venue that will erode the quality of life for residents, that could create more nuisances to the residents?”

Judy Vazquez, a former parishioner and Pilsen resident, said that she hoped the deal would fail, noting that she does not feel it would be right to have parties in a former church, even if it was deconsecrated in 2019:

“I have faith that the contract will fall through,” she said. “It’s not the first sort of, kind of rodeo that we’ve been at.”

While it is still unknown if the deal will go through, there have been numerous failures to sell the building in the last decade. One reason for these failures is the extensive maintenance the two towers of St. Adalbert’s need to undergo. For many years now the towers have been covered by protective scaffolding to protect pedestrians from any crumbling or deterioration. It is estimated that the work would cost about $3 million to complete. 

Read more about the possible sale of St. Adalbert’s at Block Club Chicago. 

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