WIN: Concert Celebrates Start of Preston Bradley Center Restoration

Preston Bradley Center, 1926, J.E.O. Pridmore, 941 W. Lawrence Avenue. Photo Credit: Eric Allix Roger
Dr. Dan Ivankovich shares his plans to renovate Preston Bradley Center to create a performing arts theater and nonprofit center during a celebration on November 15, 2023. Photo credit: Ward Miller

“The new owner of the Preston Bradley Center is a six-foot-eleven former collegiate basketball player who is a renowned orthopedic surgeon by day and a blues guitarist by night. Under his ownership, the historical church and social services building will be revived as an entertainment and community hub housing the doctor and his wife’s nonprofit and creative endeavors.

“Daniel Ivankovich and Karla Ivankovich last year bought the shuttered Preston Bradley Center, 941 W. Lawrence. Ave. Built in 1925, the building housed the Peoples Church of Chicago and numerous social services agencies including a homeless shelter until more recently falling into disrepair.

“With the Ivakoviches restoration, the building will once again be a thriving neighborhood hub, and will become the latest theater in Uptown’s entertainment district.

“The centerpiece of the revived Preston Bradley Center will be the roughly 1,300-person auditorium on the ground floor, to be called the Lawrence Theater, Daniel Ivankovich said. The theater will help fill a mid-sized venue niche in Uptown and Chicago, Ivakovich said. A marquee could for the Lawrence Theater could be added to the building, although that would need special city approval as the structure is historically protected.

“The rest of the 58,000 square foot Preston Bradley Center will include physical and behavioral health services in a community center that will also offer art and music education programs. The Peoples Church will also retain a presence in the building.

“A preview of the building’s future was unveiled at a town hall on Nov. 15, which served as a demonstration of the potential for the space as well as a rough outline for the Ivankovich’s plans.

“The Preston Bradley Center was built by its namesake, the Rev. Preston Bradley, in 1925 to house his Peoples Church of Chicago, a progressive Christian congregation. The building has been owned by the People Church of Chicago ever since. But after years of declining congregation numbers and donors, the church fell behind on repairs to the massive building.

“Along came the Ivankoviches who sought to turn the building into a community center. The church was sold on Ivankovich’s vision, selling the building to the husband and wife for $2 million.

“‘We’ve been out in the community for the past year just making friends and influencing people,’ Dan Ivakovich said. ‘Everyone’s been so supportive. These amazing people who’ve made this possible are just people that we’ve met.’ (Thrush, Block Club Chicago, 11/29/23)

Preservation Chicago is thrilled that Daniel Ivankovich and Karla Ivankovich have purchased Preston Bradley Center. They are precisely the type of community-oriented, preservation-sensitive buyers we had been working to find.

Ward Miller was honored to be invited to speak regarding the historic significance of Preston Bradley Center and the decades long Landmark Designation process that has helped to protect, stabilize, and revitalize Uptown. Ward spoke to a large audience assembled for the Preston Bradley Center on November 15, 2023.

When we first learned that Preston Bradley Center would be listed for sale, Preservation Chicago began actively seeking buyers for the Chicago Landmark that would preserve the building and social uses which serve the greater Uptown community. The exterior of Preston Bradley Center is protected by the Uptown Square Landmark District. However, the interior is not protected.

In 2015, Preservation Chicago advocated for a individual Chicago Landmark Designation for the building that would include both the exterior and significant interior features including the large 1,300 seat sanctuary / auditorium and the highly decorative Masonic Hall located on the top floor of the building. The previous ownership was open to an Individual Landmark Designation, but choose not to advance the process. We have revisited the possibility of creating an Individual Landmark Designation for Preston Bradley Hall with the new owners which would both protect these important interior spaces and provide assistance to support this vital social and cultural center.

Read the full story at Block Club Chicago

Uptown’s Preston Bradley Center Will Be Revived As Concert Venue, Community Center; The historical church and social services building was sold to Daniel Ivankovich, who will turn the building into an entertainment and community center, Charles Thrush, Block Club Chicago, 11/29/23

Uptown’s Historical Preston Bradley Center Bought By Local Surgeon, Blues Man Who Plans To Convert It Into Nonprofit Community Hub; Daniel Ivankovich, a renowned orthopedic surgeon and blues musician known as Chicago Slim, plans to turn the church into a home for his and other nonprofits,  Joe Ward, Block Club Chicago, 10/28/22

What’s That Building? The Preston Bradley Center; A local surgeon and blues musician has big plans for the six-story building in Uptown, which has been home to the Peoples Church since 1926; The Preston Bradley Center in Uptown was recently purchased by Dr. Dan Ivankovich, who plans to rehabilitate the church as a thriving community space, Dennis Rodkin, WBEZ Chicago, 11/10/22

Redevelopment Announced For Preston Bradley Hall In Uptown, Ian Achong, Chicago YIMBY, 12/10/23

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