Landmarks group gets $450K in pledges to save Woodlawn church

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A fire on Oct. 7, 2015, caused extensive damage at the church. | Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times

A coalition of preservation groups on Monday announced it has raised $450,000 to stabilize a landmark Woodlawn church the Archdiocese of Chicago wants to tear down after it was structurally damaged in a fire last October.

The Save Our Shrine group hopes to save the 91-year-old Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest Church at 64th and Woodlawn.

“We’re very excited to announce today with all of our preservation partners that we have a commitment of $450,000 to stabilize the church building,” Bonnie McDonald, president/CEO of Landmarks Illinois, said at the group’s news conference in front of the church.

“This church is a bright beacon for the Woodlawn community, and one of the few designated Chicago landmarks that is also a Roman Catholic Church,” said Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago. “It belongs to the citizens of Chicago, and we are hoping the archdiocese will be receptive to the idea of stabilization and consider reconstruction.”

The Chicago Landmark Commission has approved a request to demolish the building, formerly St. Gelasius Church and also St. Clara’s. It’s now run by a Catholic order, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.

On Monday, an archdiocese spokeswoman said it had yet to receive the coalition’s proposal. “We look forward to understanding the details to ensure it meets the needs of the Shrine of Christ the King worshipers and those of the community,” spokeswoman Susan Burritt said.

RELATED STORY: Huge fire ravages historic Woodlawn church

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