The Chicago City Council has approved the adaptive reuse of the All Saints St. Anthony Church at 518 W 28th Place in Bridgeport. Located on the corner with S Wallace Street, the multi-building complex will see new life as a child and adult daycare facility led by developer T2 Opportunity Fund LLC with Vari Architects LTD serving as the designers of the new interior spaces.
The church was originally built to serve the area’s German population in 1915, designed by Henry J. Schlacks who worked on other churches on the south and west side. The Romanesque style building is well known for its mosaic of the vision of St. Anthony over the entrance and a stained-glass window by Bavarian artist Franz Xaver Zettler. After closing in 2019, it was scheduled for demolition before being nominated for landmark status by Preservation Chicago in 2021. Now we know the historical four-building campus will be saved and restored.
The existing church, rectory, school buildings will be receiving structural and facade repairs, while the rear convent structure is being demolished. The church and rectory will become a new adult-daycare facility, joining a handful of others throughout the city and roughly 4,600 others in the nation in 2016 serving over 286,000 elders. Adult daycares allow caregivers and families to take a break while the adults can socialize and participate in various activities, with studies showing that those in similar programs have a higher quality of life per AARP.
The church will see new walls added creating a library, reception, and office in the existing front entrance area, five activity rooms and a consultation room will be added in the linear nave, the crossing and transepts will become a multi-purpose space, and the choir/altar will be an exercise space with restrooms. The rear rectory building will be transformed into offices and a kitchen, details on how the ornate interior will be altered for these renovations are currently unknown.
The existing school building will become a children’s daycare facility with some of the already partitioned spaces remaining the same, a small addition will be built with a new exit stair and expanded classroom space. The first floor will feature a reception space, and an isolation room, with 14 classrooms spread across the three floors. The convent will be demolished for a new 21-vehicle parking lot with two-new curb cuts on S Normal Avenue.
The approval includes the rezoning of the lot from M1-1 Limited Manufacturing/Business Park District to C1-5 Neighborhood commercial District, allowing the 1.09-acre site to proceed with work on the existing 37,925 square feet of space. Many old churches that once served thousands across the city are rapidly deteriorating, with a few being converted to homes or other used, the approval of the reuse of All Saints St. Anthony is a win for the city’s architectural legacy.