THREATENED: Effort to Raise Funds to Save St. Adalbert Church (Chicago 7 2014 & 2016)

The Society of St. Adalbert is looking to raise $1 million dollars to acquire the church property at 1650 W. 17th St. The “11th hour” plan to save the church comes as the Archdiocese of Chicago confirms the church will be put back up for sale soon.

St. Adalbert was founded in 1874 by Polish immigrants, and the current church building was built in 1912 at 1650 W. 17th Street. The church is known for hosting a weekly Mass in English and Spanish and a monthly Mass in Polish. (Pena, Block Club Chicago, 6/18/18)

Originally constructed for a Polish congregation in the Pilsen neighborhood, St. Adalbert Roman Catholic Church is a Renaissance Revival building designed by noted church architect Henry J. Schlacks, who worked for a time in the offices of Adler & Sullivan. It’s soaring 185- foot twin towers are the highest structures in the Pilsen neighborhood and easily recognizable for miles in every direction.

The parish was founded in 1874 and the earlier church structure originally located on the corner to the west. After St. Adalbert was built in 1912, the churches stood side-by-side for decades. “St. Adalbert is not only a fine example of Renaissance Revival architecture but also a chronicle of Polish history. The central figure of the church is a large statue of St. Adalbert and murals, stained glass windows and even the interior color scheme celebrate important Polish national heritage. (Pena, Block Club Chicago, 6/18/18)

Fronting the street, the two buff-colored brick towers are ornamented with finely detailed terra cotta, pierced by arcades and capped by copper cupolas. Visitors enter the church through a portico defined by a series of polished granite Corinthian columns. Once inside, the interior is a soaring rectangular space based upon the form of Roman basilica. (Pena, Block Club Chicago, 6/18/18)

“The Society of St. Adalbert presented the idea to repurpose the convent into a B&B hotel to the Archdiocese of Chicago last summer and has been working to raise pledges to make an offer for the church. If their plan works, the group aims to repair the church and maintain the sanctuary as a religious shrine. Board Member Julie Sawicki said the bed and breakfast would generate enough money to cover the maintenance, community programming and provide jobs for neighbors.

“We can keep [the entire property] together, all we have to do is repurpose the convent and position it as our primary revenue generator,” said Julie Sawicki, who is a real estate broker. “This will give us the income we need and rely on every single month.” (Pena, Block Club Chicago, 6/18/18)

The group knows the $1 million likely isn’t enough to buy and repair the property, but it’s a start. “We need way more than $1 million in pledges, but it shows the archdiocese that we have some funds available to start this project and we have the support with the community,” Sawicki said. (Pena, Block Club Chicago, 6/18/18)

The church holds particular significance for the Polish community, whose ancestors built the church more than a century ago, and for the Mexican parishioners who have long called the church home, Sawicki said. “Our ancestors built it, not just for the Polish community but for the entire Catholic community, including the Mexican community who now live in Pilsen,” Sawicki said. “We built it and the Mexican community helped sustain it.” (Pena, Block Club Chicago, 6/18/18)

“We shouldn’t have to buy our church back, we built it,” Anina Jakubowski said. (Pena, Block Club Chicago, 6/23/18)

The Resurrection Project in Pilsen and The Catholic Church Preservation Society have also expressed interest in a good outcome for St. Adalbert Church.

Additional Reading
Parishioners Rally To Raise $1 Million To Save St. Adalbert Church In Pilsen, Mauricio Pena, Block Club Chicago, 6/23/18

Could A Plan To Convert St. Adalbert Convent Into A B&B Save Pilsen Church? Mauricio Pena, Block Club Chicago, 6/18/18

What’s Next For St. Adalbert?, Amy Qin, South Side Weekly, 5/22/18


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