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Massive Effort to Restore Shrine of Christ the King Begins

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The landmark church was devastated by a raging fire in October

The enormous effort to restore the Shrine of Christ the King Church in Woodlawn is underway. According to the Sun-Times and DNAinfo, cleanup from the devastating fire that engulfed the historic church building last October has just begun and the first priority is sealing the church off from the elements by installing new windows and a new roof — a job that is expected to take months. After the fire devastated the structure, the Archdiocese of Chicago decided that the repairs would be too costly and negotiated a handoff of the building to the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, the order that has used the church over the last decade. However, as DNAinfo suggests, the winter-long negotiation and inaction has likely contributed to the deterioration of the church.

The church's restoration will be no simple task. Estimates put the total cost somewhere in the range of $9 million. However, the church has received $1 million in donations since last October's fire.

Shrine of Christ the King was designed by noted architect Henry J. Schlacks and was completed in 1923. The church began its life as St. Clara Church, then was renamed St. Gelasius, before finally coming to the Shrine of Christ the King name that we are more familiar with today. Two other Schlacks-designed churches, St. Adalbert in Pilsen and St. Boniface in East Village, are also in danger of being demolished, but an outpouring of support from community members may see that these historic structure are eventually saved.