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Chicago’s Church of the Epiphany to be converted to performing arts and event space

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Closed in 2011, the historic structure will require a zoning change prior to its adaptive reuse

Eric Allix Rogers

The West Loop’s shuttered Church of the Epiphany may soon reopen its doors at 201 S. Ashland Avenue as a performing arts and event venue. Designed by architects Edward Burling and Francis Whitehouse in 1885, the handsome stone structure is one of Chicago’s earlier examples of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture. The 132-year-old building at the southeast corner of Ashland and Adams held the funeral for assassinated Chicago Mayor Carter Harrison Sr. in 1893 as well as a memorial service for Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton in 1969.

The church was landmarked by the city in the mid-1990s when the 1976 Jackson Boulevard District was extended to include Adams Street. It finally closed in 2011 due to Epiphany’s congregation shrinking to just six individuals. While the property is still owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, Chicago-based developer BCG Enterprises, LLC has recently stepped forward with a plan to reuse the old religious building.

Under the plan, the structure would be converted to performance and event space with an art gallery and studios. Though the integrity of the 19th Century church building’s exterior is protected, the proposal from Fitzgerald Associates Architects does call for the addition of a 150-person rooftop deck atop its adjoining Parish Hall.

The developer also plans to seek a liquor license for “catered events,” according to the Neighbors of the West Loop. The community group will participate in drafting a plan of operation that would outline details such as noise restrictions and hours of operation. NOWL has also requested a more detailed plan for managing deliveries and protecting the site’s historic alleyway.

Under the plan, the developer would request a zoning change from RM-5 Residential Multi-Unit District to DX-3 Mixed Use Downtown District. While BCG has filed a zoning application with the Chicago City Clerk, it is unclear when the developer aims to go before groups such as the Chicago Plan Commission, Committee on Zoning, or City Council for approval.

Eric Allix Rogers