Remembering Pilgrim Baptist Church
Pilgrims Baptist Church© Chicago Architecture Foundation

10.02.2006 | what’s on
by Chicago Architecture Foundation

The Chicago Architecture Foundation is hosting a discussion of the lost Chicago landmark, Pilgrim Baptist Church, on Thursday, March 2, 6 pm, at the ArchiCenter in the Santa Fe Building, 224 S. Michigan Avenue. The discussion will focus on both the architectural and historical significance of the church as well as efforts to rebuild.
John Vinci, FAIA, Vinci/Hamp Architects, assisted with the restoration of Pilgrim Baptist Church in 1986. Mr. Vinci will lead Conrad Paulson, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. (WJE) and other experts in a conversation about the 1891 Adler & Sullivan gem, devastated by fire earlier this year.
Vinci /Hamp Architects are known for their expertise with preservation and intimate knowledge of Louis Sullivan buildings including the Trading Room of the Chicago Stock Exchange restoration project as well as the Pilgrim Baptist Church.  WJE is stabilizing the exterior walls in their present condition, for public safety and for future reconstruction.
It took just 2 hours on January 6 for the 115 year old Adler & Sullivan landmark, in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, to be completely ravished by fire.  Pilgrim Baptist Church was one of the city’s finest architectural gems with a grand auditorium of astounding acoustics as well as rich organic ornamentation, both characteristics of the architects, Louis Sullivan and his partner Dankmar Adler.  Originally commissioned by Adler’s father, a rabbi, for the Kehilath Anshe Ma’ariv (KAM) Synagogue in 1891, the oldest Jewish congregation in Chicago, this inspiring space for worship included a collaboration with colorist Louis Millet in both the interior spaces and the art glass windows.
It became Pilgrim Baptist Church in 1922, and the building continued to thrive as a house of worship, as well as a hub and cultural mecca for Chicago’s African-American population including the singing of gospel-soul legends.
The event is free but donations for Pilgrim Baptist Church’s rebuilding efforts will be taken at the door. Pre-registration is requested. Visit for more information.

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