Epworth Church In Edgewater Moves Closer To Landmark Status

Image of main auditorium by Matt Gilbert

A final landmark recommendation has been made by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks for the Epworth Church at 5153 N Kenmore Avenue in Edgewater. Located south of the intersection with W Berwyn Avenue near Foster Beach, the structure’s landmark efforts were set off due to a demolition permit applied for last year by an undisclosed developer. Now the commission has recommended the approval of its landmark status to the church and adjoining community house.

Exterior image of main church building by Matt Gilbert

We covered its potential demolition mid-2022 where we were able to speak with local residents who emphasized its unique character as one of the last 1890’s buildings in the area, with the main church being completed in 1891. Designed by parishioner Frederick B. Townsend in a romanesque style, the building holds a large hall sanctuary home to a 1494-pipe, 25-rank organ whose music fills the column-free space supported by ornate wood trusses. A small intimate chapel with stucco walls and painted trusses also occupies the lower floor below.

Exterior image of 1930’s addition by Matt Gilbert

But perhaps what sets the building apart is its rusticated boulder facade, made up of stones Townsend floated down from Wisconsin himself. Similar stones can also be seen in the adjacent three-story addition from the 1930s facing a small pirate garden, all together the building meets at least three of the criteria required to gain the designation. It is also worth noting that it did enter the National Register of Historic Places in 2008, however that does not ensure its protection as we saw Soldier Field delisted in 2006 post renovations.

Image of windows of lower chapel by Matt Gilbert

Now the designation must be approved by the city, however the documentation does allow for slight alterations to the windows in order to promote the redevelopment of the site which is currently up for sale. At the moment no new details have been revealed for the future of the site, though mentions for its conversion to affordable residential units have been made.

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2 Comments on "Epworth Church In Edgewater Moves Closer To Landmark Status"

  1. Let’s pray that the sanctuary remains as an auditorium for cultural events and the architecture of the complex is protected.

  2. Gary Barkhurst | April 17, 2023 at 11:22 am | Reply

    Have watched this monstrosity deteriorate over the years. Is anyone going to repair the facade? Clean up the landscaping, shove the sidewalks, clean trash off the property? The facility has been a bad neighbor and has been neglected for years. Am personally tired of seeing it on a daily basis.

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