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After Second Fire, Woodlawn Must Fight Again to Save Church

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The Woodlawn community is coming together for the second time in 12 years to save the historic Shrine of Christ The King after the building was ravaged by an October fire -- the second blaze in the building's storied 93-year history. Designed by renowned ecclesiastical architect Henry J. Schlacks, the 1923 church is a fine example of the Renaissance Revival style and features Romanesque columns and a 120-foot spire. After a 1976 fire destroyed much of the interior, the parish made basic repairs but struggled with dwindling numbers until a 2002 decision was made by the Chicago Archdiocese to shutter and demolish the church. Neighbors and preservationists joined forces to save the structure and successfully campaigned for its protective landmarking in 2004. The site was declared a shrine in 2006 and the Institute of Christ the King was brought on to oversee restoration which included work on the building's badly damaged ceiling. But following October's fire and vow from church members to rebuild, the Archdiocese has once again announced their intentions of demolishing the building at 6414 S. Woodlawn, citing a lack of structural stability.

The community that rallied to spare the historic church from the wrecking ball in 2002-2004 is once again coming together to save the structure -- if not at least parts of it. In place of demolition, preservationists are proposing alternatives to the Archdiocese. Possible solutions include stabilizing the walls to be rebuilt or performing what's called a "façade-ectomy" in which the building's mostly-intact Baroque outer skin would be carefully dismantled and then reused on a future structure. So far the Archdiocese has yet to respond to the preservationists' proposals. To learn more about the history of the church including the role it played throughout Woodlawn's changing history check out this informative piece by Eric Allix Rogers. You can also aid Woodlawn's efforts to save the Shrine of Christ The King by visiting savetheshrine.org to volunteer, donate, or sign an online petition to the Archdiocese of Chicago.

·Fire Claims Yet Another Landmark South Side Church [Curbed Chicago]
·Oily Rags Spontaneously Combusted, Starting Fire That Burned Down Church [DNAinfo]
·Rallying to Save a Twice-Burned Woodlawn Landmark [Chicago Patterns]
·Save the Shrine