If you have never visited the First Church of Deliverance at 4315 S. Wabash in Bronzeville, please consider visiting it during the Open House Chicago weekend on October 19 and 20. The church is also open for worship services every Sunday at 11 a.m.
The iconic, Art Moderne-style church is unlike most churches you will see in Chicago. Designed in 1939 by the first African-American Architect registered in Illinois, Walter T. Bailey, it was built around an old hat factory. A second story was added and the building was expanded 50 feet to the south beyond the original hat factory footprint. The unique bands of colored terra-cotta blocks are representative of the Art Moderne style. Following restoration effort following a fire in 1945, the distinctive towers were added to the church’s façade.
It is in the midst of a significant restoration effort, thanks in part to a $228,000 Chicago Adopt-A-Landmark Grant. First Church of Deliverance was designated a Chicago Landmark in 1994 making it eligible for Adopt-a-Landmark funds.
First Church of Deliverance received a $228,000 restoration grant from the Chicago Department of Planning and Development Adopt-a-Landmark fund in January 2018. The congregation has used the Adopt-a-Landmark funds to restore the façade, do some tuckpoint, restore its historic murals painted by Chicago-based artist Fred Jones and restore the large wooden front doors. The congregation also replaced the foyer tile in 2018. Funding for the Adopt-a-Landmark program is provided by new development projects in exchange for receiving zoning bonuses.
The founding Paster Rev. Clarence H. Cobbs and his Assistant Rev. Mattie Thornton grew the congregation, and led services that transformed people’s lives. This incredible church and its devoted congregation are emblematic of the spirit and commitment to save a house of worship that pioneered national radio broadcasts of its services and changed the sound of gospel music with the addition of a Hammond electric organ. Additionally, the First Church of Deliverance played a significant role in the history of gospel music. Since the 1940s, its gospel music broadcasts established it as an important national center for the growth and innovation of this musical genre. At one time, it had a 200-person choir. Over the years, gospel and jazz music legends including Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Dinah Washington and Sallie Martin performed at the church for its nationally syndicated Gospel radio program.
Chicago is experiencing an extraordinary construction boom with record-breaking levels of new construction and investment. Preservation Chicago applauds the City of Chicago and its efforts to divert a portion of the massive capital investments in downtown super-tall projects to Chicago Landmarks in the neighborhoods through the Adopt-a-Landmark Fund. This a powerful, successful, and effective tool to help all of Chicago to move forward together and to provide much-needed renovation funds to important Chicago Landmarks located in the neighborhoods and underserved communities. The hope is that these funds will continue to flow into the neighborhoods to help restore Chicago Landmarks suffering from years of deferred maintenance. Preservation Chicago encourages owners of Chicago Landmark buildings to nominate their landmarks to this Adopt-a-Landmark program. Link to Adopt-a-Landmark program and link to download an application.