1348 W. Chestnut St., Chicago
After 17 years of advocacy, the historic former St. Boniface Roman Catholic Church in Chicago’s Near Northwest Side neighborhood will finally have a new life. On Friday, Sept. 23, the Chicago Department of Planning and Development announced the church had been purchased by Chicago developer Stas Development, saving the historic building from demolition. Landmarks Illinois has been involved in the long process to protect St. Boniface Church, at 1348 W. Chestnut St., since it closed in 1990. In 1999, the building was placed on our Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois list, and LI staff and board members have voiced support for the reuse of the landmark building and provided assistance as needed over the years – most recently supplying a professional condition assessment of the building for the city to verify its structural stability. Preservation Chicago also put the building on its 2002 Chicago 7 list and has been a consistent advocate, helping bring potential users forward.
Stas Development reportedly plans to rehabilitate the former St. Boniface Church and transform it into residential units. Plans also include partnering with the nonprofit Chicago Academy of Music to house a possible music school there.
Like Cook County Hospital, St. Boniface serves as an example of the extraordinary efforts required to save large, historic buildings that become vacant. There are numerous challenging obstacles to consider: zoning changes, concerns from neighbors about future development or changes to their community’s character, etc.
“These buildings can be complicated to protect,” said Landmarks Illinois Director of Advocacy Lisa DiChiera. “However, St. Boniface serves as an example of how neighbors, community advocates, preservation groups, the city and, in this case a developer and nonprofit, came together to save a special, historic building.”