“The Commission on Chicago Landmarks voted in favor of a final recommendation for Monumental Baptist Church in Bronzeville at its May 5, 2022 meeting, clearing a path for the Romanesque Revival building to become a city landmark. The church at 729 E. Oakwood Boulevard will now go to the City Council for a committee and full council vote. Ald. Sophia King (4th) supports the landmarking.
“Monumental Baptist was built between 1899 and 1901 as Memorial Baptist, and housed a congregation with ties to the University of Chicago.
“A Black Baptist congregation bought the building in 1934, and it became a local anchor of the Civil Rights Movement under a succession of activist pastors. Among them was Reverend Dr. Dearine Edwin King, who was close friends with Martin Luther King, Jr. During King’s tenure, Monumental Baptist hosted the first meeting of Operation PUSH, Jesse Jackson’s influential South Side nonprofit.
“The brick-and-terra cotta building was designed by the architecture firm Patton, Fisher and Miller. Normand Patton, earlier in his career, built the Main Building and Machinery Hall at the nearby Illinois Institute of Technology — both are now Chicago landmarks.
“DPD Commissioner Maurice Cox said at Thursday’s meeting that he hopes the church congregation can use the city’s Adopt-A-Landmark grants to fund interior renovations, and praised the work of Monumental Baptist’s membership.
“‘I don’t think anyone really appreciates what a challenge it is to do this work, just as volunteers,’ he said. ‘I have a feeling other congregations will be looking at you as a lead, and it’ll be easier for them to step in and preserve the legacy of their presence in these communities.'” (Belanger, Hyde Park Herald, 5/5/22)
Preservation Chicago is thrilled by this outcome and has consistently testified in support of Chicago Landmark Designation at Commission on Chicago Landmarks hearings.
A Bronzeville Church Once Known For Its Handel Concerts May Soon Become A City Landmark; The 103-year-old church still has several steps to gain landmark status, but its leader, pastor Cleophus Lee, is optimistic, Jamie Nesbitt Golden, Block Club Chicago, 3/24/22