St. Gelasius Catholic Church

6400 S. Woodlawn, Chicago

At its meeting on Sept. 4, 2003, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks voted to begin the process of designating this South Side church as a local landmark. The preliminary designation, along with a decision to deny a demolition permit application filed by the building’s owner, the Archdiocese of Chicago, was a historic action on the part of the Commission. It is the first church building the Commission has attempted to landmark—without the pre-approval of the owner—since the passage of a 1987 city ordinance requiring “owner consent” for the landmarking of religious properties.

The Renaissance Revival-style church (built in 1923 and designed by architect Henry Schlacks) was closed in 2002 and the Archdiocese planned to demolish it. The City decided to pursue landmark designation after being advised by its legal counsel that a vacant church—one no longer used for religious purposes—does not fall within the restrictions of the ordinance.

On January 12, 2004, the Chicago City Council’s Committee on Historical Landmark Preservation unanimously voted in favor of the Commission’s recommendation for St. Gelasius’ landmark designation and forwarded it to the full Council where it was officially voted as a Chicago landmark on January 14. Only one alderman, Alderman Theodore Matlak of the 32nd ward, voted in opposition.

(credit: Landmarks Illinois)

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