THREATENED: Second Church of Christ, Scientist

Address: 2700 N. Pine Grove Avenue
Architects: Solon S. Beman
Date: 1899-1901
Style: Classical Revival
Neighborhood: Lincoln Park

OVERVIEW
Second Church of Christ, Scientist is a fine example of Chicago architect Solon S. Beman’s work and is located on the North Side adjacent to historic Lincoln Park. Beman, known most famously for his design of the historic Town of Pullman as well as commercial and religious buildings, designed this church in a Classical Revival-style, reminiscent of an ancient Greek Temple. The building was completed in 1901 as the second church structure and institution, dedicated to the Christian Science movement in Chicago.

After serving the Lincoln Park community for more than a century, this remarkable building, designed by one of Chicago’s well-noted architects, has been offered for sale by the congregation and a real estate consultant. The church may be in imminent danger of demolition if sold to a developer, as the building is not a designated Chicago Landmark. This is due in part to a 1987 Chicago ordinance requiring owner permission and consent to designate religious buildings as official protected and recognized Landmarks. Often churches and owners of religious structures do not wish to be encumbered by this designation and honor, which may limit future plans, including possible demolition of their magnificent buildings.

THREATS
This extraordinary building has been offered for sale by the congregation and a real estate consultant. Despite a proposal in 2017 to consider a reuse of the building as a community cultural center and library, sponsored by a Chicago-based foundation in tandem with the City, the congregation continues to seek a developer for the property. This marvelous structure, much like several other former Christian Science churches, may be in imminent danger of demolition, thereby losing both an amazing legacy building and an opportunity for this structure to continue to serve the community as a destination and a much-needed resource and cultural center.

RECOMMENDATIONS
Preservation Chicago would like to encourage the church’s owners to explore further the cultural and community center proposal in partnership with private foundations, elected officials, the City of Chicago and nearby institutions like Lincoln Park Zoo and the Lincoln Park Conservatory. Such a universal space with auditorium seating could provide a much-needed gathering and meeting space for concerts, lectures and other events.

We encourage this remarkable structure to be considered for designation as a Chicago Landmark. The building would meet the criteria for designation and would fulfill a long-standing conversation in the community with public officials and ownership to consider such a designation and honor. The reuse of the building to a cultural center, combined with a Chicago Public Library branch, would also perhaps be in the spirit of Mrs. Eddy and the larger Christian Science community to reuse the building to benefit mankind.

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