2021 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation AWARD FOR ADAPTIVE REUSE

Through a creative adaptive reuse, developers and husband and wife team David Chase & Kimberly Rachal turned a former 1885 Episcopal church on Chicago’s West Side into an arts center for visual, performing and culinary arts. The church was constructed in 1885, designed by architects Edward Burling and Francis Whitehouse and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. Chase and Rachal adapted the former church’s interior, exterior and its 1953 parish building for the purposes of the arts center and made the structures 100% ADA accessible. The space is now home to a eclectic collection of eight art galleries, three resident artist studios, Studio 4 (a space dedicated exclusively for classes, workshops and lectures), four performing arts venues and three event spaces.

Chase and Rachal were married at the former church in 1996. That same year, they purchased a building across the street from the church. This personal connection to the building and neighborhood inspired the couple to purchase the church when it hit the market in 2017, six years after the last church services were held at the building.

Serving Chicago’s diverse population, the goal of the center is, “To instill an artistic cultural experience in all patrons who cross its threshold with the hope that each will be inspired to realize their own Epiphany.” This is a forward-thinking solution to an underused religious space, which exists, as its mission states: “For the Good of Art, Entertainment and Events.”

(Photo credit: MacRostie Historic Advisors LLC)


  • David Chase & Kimberly Rachal, Epiphany Co-Founders
  • John Cramer & Chris Usler, MacRostie Historic Advisors, LLC
  • Pat Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald Associates Architects
  • Alderman Jason Ervin

(Photo credit: Tom McDonald)


David Chase & Kimberly Rachal

The Epiphany Center for the Arts is important to us first because it is where we were married on October 5, 1996. That same year, when we purchased an industrial, three-story building across the street and moved into the third-floor loft, we had no way of knowing the significant role the Church of the Epiphany would play in our lives. We were new neighbors making friends with residents of the historic Jackson Boulevard District that included the Victorian homes on the south side of Adams Street. The Church of the Epiphany, with its Richardsonian Romanesque architecture and magnificent bells, became our landmark. We fell in love with the old building and its members, some of whom have become lifelong friends. Every Sunday morning, we relished the sound of the church bells that were rung, and we could see the sway of those bells from our west-facing loft windows.

In 1998, the Church of the Epiphany was added to the National Register of Historic Places. That same year, friends and fellow church members contracted a glass company owned by Kimberly to replace stained glass windows that had long been stolen from the church. Kimberly was honored to have her glass included in a space designed by the great architects by Burling and Whitehouse. She thoughtfully suggested one of the patterns from the terracotta tiles on the church’s interior walls. The intricate pattern was etched and carved onto the glass of the church’s west-facing windows.

The Church of the Epiphany’s doors closed in 2011. When it was placed on the market in 2017, it was our personal connection to the Church of the Epiphany that drove us to acquire the church. We understood the significant role the church has had, as a place for people to congregate since 1885. The neighborhood has gone through many transformations since that time, but the grand building and the impact it has had on the people within the community fortunate enough to cross its threshold has remains the same.

In December of 2018, while in the midst of Epiphany’s construction, we hosted a tour for about 15 of the last remaining church members. There were tears of sadness and joy. To many, the church was where they had spent a great part of their lives. They had many stories to share about how the Church of the Epiphany touched and changed their lives. We feel honored that our project, the Epiphany Center for the Arts, was able to give new life to the former church. The doors are now open, and people from all of Chicago’s 77 communities and beyond have received the gift of having access to this wonderful property again. Epiphany is exceptional in its mission to exist “For the Good of Art, Entertainment, and Events.” The cornerstone of the church is carved “For the Good of Men”.


David Chase & Kimberly Rachal

We have made an immediate impact on our Chicago West Side community by saving the building from demolition. After the church closed in 2011, it had an uncertain future. In a neighborhood that has seen its own large share of tear downs, the former Church of the Epiphany will remain a community anchor as it has been since 1885. Our mission is to instill an artistic cultural experience in all patrons who cross our threshold with the hope that each will be inspired to realize their own Epiphany. We fulfill this mission every day by offering our neighborhood a place for meetings, for making and viewing art, for celebrations or even just for getting a cup of coffee and a bagel. This section of busy Ashland Avenue still doesn’t have many businesses or institutions for community gatherings and we’re proud to have been a part in creating such a space for our neighbors.

The COVID-19 pandemic limited our construction and early programming in 2020 and early 2021. Construction was far enough along that in early March 2020 the City of Chicago, with oversight by the Department of Buildings and encouragement from the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), authorized temporary occupancy for two private events. The following week, Mayor Lightfoot and Governor J.B Pritzker implemented strict social distancing and business protocols to fight the virus; though construction stopped briefly as we coordinated with our trades, rehab work resumed later in March 2020 and by Fall 2020 we began to host our first (very small) events.

Like Victory Boyd’s song ‘Against the Wind,’ Epiphany persevered and over the course of six weeks, we were allowed to open to the public, albeit with continued restrictions. After hosting 15 live performances in The Sanctuary and two exhibitions in the Catacombs, then, as quickly as we had opened, Epiphany closed again in late 2020 due to COVID restrictions. This time, with construction all but completed and a skeletal staff, we were facing an uncertain future. Operating reserves and construction loans dwindled and the obligation to start funding permanent financing loomed on the horizon. Thankfully, First Eagle Bank and West Town Bank & Trust came to our aid and Epiphany would be stabilized for at least the foreseeable future. Finally, Epiphany re-opened on March 1, 2021.

In Spring 2021, we are finally seeing our vision for Epiphany in action. Today, Epiphany is operating Thursday through Saturday. Its Café Bar is fully activated as are its four performing arts venues and five of its eight galleries. Soon, we will expand to Wednesday and Sunday. And, we have increased occupancy from no more than 50 per venue to over 10, all the while exercising reasonable, safe and stringent COVID-safe protocols.


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