For more than a century, Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church has been an anchor in the Bronzeville community. Now its supporters are one step closer to securing the building’s future.
Announced in late 2021 as a finalist for Adopt-a-Landmark grant dollars, the church submitted its plan Thursday for exterior repairs totaling $900,000, which the Commission on Chicago Landmarks unanimously accepted at its monthly meeting.
Because the grant is in excess of $250,000, City Council must also approve the funds.
Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church is known as the birthplace of gospel music and was awarded Chicago landmark status in 2011.
At a time when other churches across the city have either been shuttered or lost to fire, that Ebenezer is still standing is remarkable in itself. The grant dollars will pay for a new roof and masonry repairs, among other maintenance projects.
“It is our desire to restore our great edifice and it is our desire to remain a community hub,” said Darryl Person, the church’s pastor.
The discussion surrounding Ebenezer’s grant request was nearly hijacked by members of the public who dialed into the commission’s meeting to speak on behalf of their own churches, specifically the long endangered St. Adalbert in Pilsen and the recently closed Shrine of Christ the King in Woodlawn.
Though chastised by commissioners for speaking off-topic, the callers said the meetings were their sole means of being heard by city officials. Ernie Wong, the commission’s chairman, said he would aim to improve communication channels.
Another Adopt-a-Landmark finalist, this time from 2019, also had its grant request approved by the commission Thursday. The On Leong Merchants Association Building at 2216 S. Wentworth Ave. will receive $250,000 for facade repairs.
The building is one of the oldest, most prominent symbols of the Chinese community in Chicago.
“I’m so please to finally see a piece of Chinatown on our agenda,” said Maurice Cox, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Planning and Development.