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Chicago historic church receives large preservation project grant

Posted: December 1 2021 at 09:38 AM
Author: Anne Marie Gerhardt, Dir. of Communications


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A United Methodist Church in the historic Pullman district, a Kenwood synagogue and two homes associated with the Great Migration of Black Americans to Chicago are among 12 recipients that are selected for Adopt-A-Landmark grants from Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD).

Valued at more than $4.3 million, the tentative grant awards are the largest to be allocated in support of planned restoration projects since the Adopt-A-Landmark program debuted in 2016.

“This round of grant awards is focusing on neighborhood-scale buildings and structures that help define who we are as a city,” Commissioner Maurice Cox said. “Whether it’s for a house of worship, a corner commercial building, or a neighborhood tavern, the grants will help preserve these structures for generations of neighborhood residents to come.”

Greenstone UMC, located at 11211 S. St. Lawerence Ave., was awarded $1.08 million. After receiving a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Greenstone UMC began restoring its 135-year-old church building in October 2020 and embarked on its campaign, "Raise, Repair, and Restore.” Work has included a full roof replacement, restoring the “greenstone” facade and stabilizing the bell tower. Greenstone UMC pastor Luther Mason says the DPD grant will put the total restoration project that includes exterior facade work, interior improvements and restoration ahead of schedule by 2-3 years.

The Greenstone Church was built by industrialist George Pullman in his “company town” of Pullman in 1882. Designed by Solon Beman, it features a unique facade of green stone quarried in Pennsylvania. The original cost of the building was $57,000, and seats 600. With the exception of the chancel arrangements, the sanctuary has remained unchanged since the 1880s. The cherry wood that comprises the altar and pews, over 90% of the stained glass windows, and the two manual-tracker pipe organ are original to the building.

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The city’s Adopt-A-Landmark award is one of the largest grants for a Northern Illinois Conference church. Pastor Mason says the Methodist Church has been a major part of Pullman's history for 139 years and this grant helps put the church in a place to continue serving the community.

"We have gotten support in this effort from the Pullman community, and they realize that it's not just the historical significance of the building, but the fact that the church has been the 'community center' and that the community needs a place of faith, justice, and service within the Pullman historic district and beyond," said Mason.

Financed by downtown construction projects through the Neighborhood Opportunity Bonus system, the DPD awards are made available to individual landmarks and landmark district buildings on an annual basis. The 12 projects were selected from 16 applications received by DPD staff this summer. Awards were determined based on project viability, neighborhood needs, project scope, and other factors.

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