Just a year after the Archdiocese of Chicago announced that it would be shuttering the historic Henry Schlacks-designed St. Adalbert Church in Pilsen, the local Catholic religious authority has confirmed that it is under contract to sell the property to the Chicago Academy of Music, the Tribune reports.
The Chicago Academy of Music, a conservatory and music school currently based out of the University Church of Chicago, recently partnered with developer Mike Skoulsky of Stas Development to purchase and plan an adaptive reuse of the long vacant St. Boniface Church in the East Village neighborhood. The plan for St. Boniface calls for new condos in existing church structure while the Chicago Academy of Music will build an outpost next door on Noble Street.
While preservationists applaud the Chicago Academy of Music’s effort to purchase and renovate the historic St. Adalbert Church, others—particularly practicing Catholics—are concerned about the fate of the church’s famous Polish Cathedral style interior and its future role as a non-religious facility. A petition with nearly 3,000 signatures urges that the Archdiocese of Chicago backpedal on its plan to shutter and sell the church.
“The church has served the community for over 142 years and we would like to see it continue to grow and prosper for the foreseeable future,” the petition pleads. “Please let the Archdiocese know that the Church of St. Adalbert should be maintained as a fully Catholic entity.”
Despite the outpouring of support and donations to keep St. Adalbert open for worship, the sale to the Chicago Academy of Music is expected to close in the coming months. And while the calls from local Catholics urging the Archdiocese to reconsider the sale grow louder, the Chicago Academy of Music tells the Tribune that they would allow church services to continue should the sale go through.
While the debate over ownership and future use of St. Adalbert continues, Ward Miller of Preservation Chicago says that he is happy to see so much support from all sides for saving the church structure.
“We’re interested in the landmarking of the interior and exterior of the building and also repairing the towers on the building,” Miller tells us. “But as an organization, we’re trying to stay out of the ownership and usage issues.”
Miller adds that St. Adalbert has been highlighted on Preservation Chicago’s annual Chicago 7 list of endangered buildings twice, and was previously under threat of demolition.
“A couple of years ago, people were talking about demolition,” Miller stated. “I see churches everyday where there isn’t a strong community effort to save them, but for St. Adalbert’s, there is so much passion and support for saving this church.”
Members of the Save St. Adalbert Church group plan to hold a meeting at the Magnolia Restaurant and Banquet Hall this evening starting at 7 p.m. to discuss the effort to keep the building within the jurisdiction of the Catholic church.
- Music academy under contract to purchase historic St. Adalbert Church [Tribune]
- Stop the Sale of St. Adalbert Church to Music School [Change.org]
- Has Pilsen's St. Adalbert Church Been Saved? [Curbed Chicago]
- The Archdiocese is Closing Pilsen's St. Adalbert Church [Curbed Chicago]