“As debate has raged over a proposed landmark district in Pilsen, activists kept asking why the city was moving to protect 900 buildings in the Near Southwest Side neighborhood, but not one of its most prominent structures, the shuttered St. Adalbert Catholic Church. This week, however, they said they would take the first step to grant the church official landmark status — and that they have authority to begin that process without the consent of the church’s owner, the Archdiocese of Chicago.
“‘We have heard you,’ Maurice Cox, commissioner of the city’s Department of Planning and Development, said Tuesday at the last of three online meetings about the proposed landmark district. ‘This is an iconic landmark in Pilsen. That is without dispute.’
“The city, he said, would start to prepare a report to make the case that the building deserves to be protected from demolition or character-destroying alterations. City officials would work with the archdiocese on the proposed landmark designation and plans to redevelop it, he said. If a house of worship is still being used, its owner must consent before it can become a city landmark, but, if like St. Adalbert, it is no longer in use, the owner’s consent is not required, Peter Strazzabosco, a spokesman for the planning department, said Friday.
“In a statement, the archdiocese said it looks forward to working with the city ‘to understand their goals and to develop a plan for the property that recognizes its historical significance to the community while supporting the needs of St. Paul parish.’ St. Adalbert, which was officially desanctified last year, was combined with St. Paul Catholic Church in Pilsen as part of a consolidation that church officials attributed to a declining parish population and high renovation costs.
“Designed by prolific Chicago architect Henry Schlacks and located a block north of Pilsen’s 18th Street commercial corridor, the 106-year-old church at 1650 W. 17th St. combines the austere basilica form of early Christian churches with baroque flourishes that symbolize Polish national identity. Thousands of Eastern European immigrants, including Czechs and Poles, lived in Pilsen before it became predominantly Mexican American in the 1960s.
“Historic preservationists, who have been fighting to protect St. Adalbert, expressed satisfaction at the shift by city officials. ‘We’ve been encouraging the city to demonstrate that the crown-jewel and one of the iconic and gateway buildings of Pilsen needs to be landmarked,’ Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago, wrote in a text message Thursday.” (Kamin, 10/30/20)
Read the full column (with many photos) at the Chicago Tribune< Column: In a shift, city will take first steps to grant landmark status to Pilsen’s shuttered St. Adalbert, Blair Kamin, Chicago Tribune, 10/30/20