THREATENED: Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church Listed For Sale

Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church Annex / originally Little Company of Mary Hospital, 1896, James J. Egan, 4130 S. Indiana Avenue. Photo credit: Google Maps
Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, 1945, 4130 S. Indiana Ave., Founded in 1941 by civil rights leader The Rev. Louis Rawls. Photo credit: Ward Miller / Preservation Chicago

“Bronzeville’s historic Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church is on the market, and a group of preservationists and parishioners are ramping up efforts to save it from potential demolition.

“Tabernacle Missionary Baptist, 4130 S. Indiana Ave., was listed for sale last week for $799,000. The listing advertises the 26,000-square-foot space as “a new church home to restore and continue the legacy of TMBC” or ‘a unique development opportunity in a growing part of the city.’ The sale would also include a vacant lot next door.

“The building being put up for sale intensifies a recent effort from preservationists and church leaders trying to landmark the church or even gain control of the building.

“Leaders from Preservation Chicago and church members appeared before the landmarks commission at City Hall Tuesday morning to submit the building for landmark consideration.

“Preservation Chicago and Coalition of Black House Museums are working with the group to gather documents they hope will make their case for landmark status and plan to launch a petition drive in the coming days, organizers said.

“Church members and preservationists have been trying to disentangle years of litigation to figure out what was happening with the building since it was boarded up earlier this year and in-person worship services were stopped.

“Organizers told Block Club in August the church had been at the center of an ownership dispute between church loan specialist Eagle Ledge Foundations and Chicago Title Land Trust.

“Now, church members are suing Chicago Title Land Trust, alleging the defaulted loan was fraudulently issued, Seidel said. That lawsuit is pending.

“Also in dispute is a parcel of vacant land to the south of the church, which was included in the loan documents but omitted from the sheriff’s deed of foreclosure sale, Seidel said. All three parcels of land are included in the real estate listing.

“Pope said she’d love to see the building be put to use for community purposes given its history, but the future of the church will ultimately be decided by the buyer.

“‘I wish the push for landmarking would’ve happened earlier,’ Pope said.

“Parts of the church were built in the late 19th century, with the newer building erected in 1946. Church founder Reverend Dr. Louis Rawls tapped Homer G. Sailor — an architect who once worked at Louis Sullivan’s firm — to lead the construction. It is one of six true tabernacles in the world, the building’s design meant to resemble the description illustrated in the Book of Exodus, parishioners said.” (Nesbitt Golden, Block Club Chicago, 9/21/23)

Read the full story at Block Club Chicago

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