“As religious attendance declines and churches empty, developers have in recent decades bought and transformed holy edifices into dwellings. Such plans are always controversial, with critics accusing them of desecrating a sacred space and proponents arguing that they preserve a historical building while allowing it to be used for a new, contemporary purpose.
“Two recent proposals to convert churches to condos have recently attracted spirited opposition. In December, City Council approved a plan to graft a multi-story apartment building onto the Second Church of Christ, Scientist, a plan that landed the church on Preservation Chicago’s list of seven most endangered buildings in 2019. (Roman Catholic churches also made the list that year and again in 2021.)
“A similar proposal to convert what was once the Fourteenth Church of Christ, Scientist in Ravenswood into an apartment building without preserving its worship space was rejected by the local alderman after objections from neighbors; a new proposal is supposedly in the works.
“Both buildings have colonnaded fronts and domed roofs, grand touches for their locations on quiet residential streets.
“What is a ‘Church of Christ, Scientist,’ and how many of them are there in Chicago?
“You would almost certainly recognize one of them. The Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist sits proudly along the river at Wabash Avenue and Wacker Drive downtown. Its clean-lined edifice, designed by Harry Weese in 1968, has been seen in films such as Divergent and Transformers 3. The building is one of only a few original Churches of Christ, Scientist in Chicago that still houses a Christian Science congregation. (Hautzinger, WTTW Chicago, 5/11/21)
Read the full article with photos and map at WTTW Chicago
The Varied Lives and Architecture of Chicago’s Christian Science Churches, Daniel Hautzinger, WTTW Chicago, 5/11/21