THREATENED: 2nd Christian Science Church Declines Purchase Offer from Major Chicago Foundation to Fully Restore and Convert to Lincoln Park Community Cultural Arts Center

Located at 2700 N. Pine Grove in Lincoln Park, the Second Church of Christ, Scientist was designed by Solon S. Beman in 1899. Beman’s design was inspired by the Merchant Tailors building which he designed for the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. Built of Bedford limestone and granite, its glorious Beaux-Arts design includes a colonnade, triangular pediment and elaborates dental moldings. The interior is even more extraordinary with large theater space, with a multiple arches and an art glass dome.

The building’s future remains uncertain as the congregation listed the property for sale. The highest sale price would be generated from a residential real-estate developers with intentions to demolish the historic building and construct a high-rise residential tower.

In January 2018, Preservation Chicago and a well-established Chicago foundation presented a purchase offer to the board and listing agent that would include a payment to the congregation, $4 million to renovate the building and convert to a community cultural center for arts, lectures and presentations. The offer included the opportunity for the congregation to continue to hold services within the building. This offer was rejected. 43rd Ward Alderman Michele Smith took steps to make the zoning consistent across the multiple parcels by downzoning to R-5.

A building designed by Beman for the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Evanston is today being used as a state-of-the-art, 550-seat performance space of the Evanston-based Music Institute. The Evanston building has a similar design to the Chicago sanctuary and its reuse could serve as a blueprint for Lincoln Park. (Von Buol, Skyline, 4/4/18)

“The building is an amazing structure. Preservation Chicago even had discussions with members of the community. We [had been] hopeful for this amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Lincoln Park community and our City, with the recent directive of Mayor Rahm Emanuel to bring the arts and neighborhood cultural centers to the communities of Chicago. The mayor has gone on record saying he wants to extend the concept of downtown’s Chicago Cultural Center to the neighborhoods,” Miller said. (Von Buol, Skyline, 4/4/18)


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