Stone Temple Baptist Church was the only building in Chicago to receive a highly competitive African American Civil Rights Grant from the Federal Government. This $440,000 grant will continue and accelerate the restoration of the Designated Chicago Landmark building. Under the strong and visionary leadership of Bishop Derrick Fitzpatrick, the building has been carefully maintained and Stone Temple Baptist Church which has continued its mission to serve both the North Lawndale community and wider City of Chicago.
“All the things that we’ve been praying for that we can continue to do in the community, God is making a way for it to happen,” said Bishop Derrick Fitzpatrick. (Jordan, ABC7)
Located at 3622 W. Douglas Boulevard in Chicago’s North Lawndale community, Stone Temple Baptist Church was originally a synagogue called First Roumanian Congregation. The soaring yellow masonry building was built in 1926 by Jewish immigrants primarily from Romania and designed by Chicago architect Joseph W. Cohen & Co. The historic building transitioned to Stone Temple Baptist Church in the 1950s under the leadership o f Reverend J.M. Stone. During the late 1950s and 1960s Reverend Stone and Stone Temple Baptist proved a strong voice advocating for Civil Rights. As early as 1959, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was in Chicago, he frequently visited Stone Temple Baptist and often addressed the congregation from the podium. During the 1966 Chicago Freedom Movement, Stone Temple Baptist was one of his key bases of support.
Preservation Chicago played an important role in outreaching to Bishop Derrick Fitzpatrick and his congregation to encourage and advocate for the Chicago Landmark Designation which was awarded in 2016. The historic building is highly significant for its architecture and its important role in the Civil Rights Movement.
Additionally, the podium from which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached remains in the sanctuary of Stone Temple Baptist Church. Preservation Chicago continues to advocate that this extraordinary artifact be prominently displayed in a leading Chicago museum such as the DuSable Museum of African American History, and perhaps on occasion loaned to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C.