January 09: Sullivan Burns (Again)

2016/01/09 § 1 Comment

On this day in 2006 a huge fire destroyed the Pilgrim Baptist Church that was designed by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan in 1891.

Originally a synagogue (in which Adler was a member), the building is significant not only to Chicago’s Jewish heritage but also to its Christian history as the birthplace of Gospel music.  In addition to this sense of cultural heritage, it was one of the firm’s rare buildings for religious use and so was doubly historically important as a cultural landmark and an architectural icon.  (A fuller historical treatment is available here.)

Meager as they were (the proposal did not even try to return to the sanctuary to its original condition; see Chicago Architect from 2011), reconstruction efforts and plans to make the church a cultural center and archive of choral history, which came with a proposed price tag of $30, have been abandoned. This is sad but unsurprising for the congregation of 300, which unfortunately does not include the addresses of otherwise architecturally-inclined Chicagoans like the Pritzker family, who can drop significant scrilla on preservation projects, but not this one.

image: the church on fire, by Brian Kersey (from this source)

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§ One Response to January 09: Sullivan Burns (Again)

  • Arnold Berke says:

    What a shame that restoration has foundered. This could be a stunning collaboration between the African-American and Jewish communities. Indeed, no Pritzkers in sight on this, apparently. What about the ultra-wealthy Richard Driehaus, who already has hearfully supported preservation in Chicago and elsewhere?

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