WIN: Preston Bradley Center Auditorium and Social Services Saved By Preservation-Oriented Buyer

“An Uptown church and social services center is getting a much-needed renovation and conversion into a nonprofit community hub after being sold for the first time in its nearly 100-year-history.
“The now-closed Preston Bradley Center at 941 W. Lawrence Ave. has been sold to Daniel Ivankovich, a renown orthopedic surgeon, philanthropist and blues musician known as Chicago Slim.
“Ivankovich plans to rehab the church, cultural center and social services building into a home for his and other nonprofits. The building would act as an office space for the organizations and a community space for hosting health clinics, seminars and arts and cultural programs.
“Some of the 1925 building’s historical uses, including as a place of worship and a respite for the underprivileged, will remain, Ivankovich said.
“‘We’ve been looking at unconventional spaces that had a cultural or historical significance that we could build on,’ he said. ‘We’re looking to make it an even greater resources to Chicago, to Uptown.’
“The Preston Bradley Center will serve as the home of One Patient Global Health Initiative, a group run by Ivankovich and wife Karla Ivankovich that provides medical services to disadvantaged populations in the Chicago area.
“It will also be home to Chicago Blues Society, a nonprofit founded by Ivankovich that provides music lessons for underserved kids and helps working musicians by providing services, including free health care.
“Ivankovich bought the building for $2 million and plans to spend more on a renovation to the building. The nonprofits could move in by spring.
“‘Everything is there,’ Ivankovich said. ‘It just needs to be restored.’

Preston Bradley Center, 1926, J.E.O. Pridmore, 941 W. Lawrence Avenue. Photo Credit: Eric Allix Rogers
“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 six-story building includes a nearly 1,300-seat auditorium with two balconies. It has a large hall or event space, office space and art studios.
“The building will hold offices for nonprofits and be able to host health clinics and other pop-up services, Ivankovich said. A soup kitchen that used to reside in the center will be welcomed back.
“‘I see the building functioning as an incubator for non-for-profits,’ Ivankovich said.
“The renovation saves a building that is a contributor to the Uptown Square Historic District and that has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.” (Ward, Block Club Chicago, 10/28/22)
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.
Fortunately, the exterior of Preston Bradley Center / Peoples Church is protected by the Uptown Square Landmark District. However, the interior is not explicitly protected. At that time, the ownership was open to an Individual Landmark Designation, but the process never moved forward. We hope to revisit the possibility of creating an Individual Landmark Designation for Preston Bradley Hall/Peoples Church which would both protect these important interior spaces and provide assistance to support this vital social and cultural center which serves the greater Uptown community.
Upon learning 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. Daniel Ivankovich is precisely the type of community-oriented, preservation-sensitive buyer we hoped to find and are thrilled by this news.

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