The prayers from some preservationists have been answered. The closed St. Adalbert Church building in Pilsen has cleared an initial hurdle for landmark status from the city.
The city’s Commission on Chicago Landmarks voted Monday in favor of a preliminary landmark recommendation for the church. This starts a lengthy eight-step approval process, which ends in a vote by City Council on the designation.
Now, the commission requests a report from the Department of Planning and Development to show how the proposed landmark designation affects the neighborhood’s plans and policies.
It’s been a long time coming for Blanca Torres with the St. Adalbert Preservation Society. Once a parishioner at the church, she has spent the past several years fighting for its preservation.
Her father was a caretaker of the church and her mom worked on its education program, she said.
“I know they talk about, ‘Oh, it’s just a building,’ but buildings are what communities gather around,” Torres said.
She said being at Monday’s meeting was “electric.”
The church held its final mass in 2019. Its closure was part of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s effort called Renew My Church, which consolidated Catholic churches in neighborhoods in response to some declining attendance.
Now, St. Adalbert Church is part of St. Paul Parish in Pilsen. The archdiocese said in a statement that the “parish is completing work it started a week ago to protect the property and the sacred items in the church which were being repeatedly vandalized and destroyed. The preliminary landmark status vote by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks does not affect the efforts of St. Paul Parish to protect these items.”
Ald. Byron Sigcho Lopez, who represents the 25th Ward that includes the church, said he hopes the archdiocese can work with the community.
“It’s not only protecting the buildings — it’s protecting our community and having the right to self-determination,” Sigcho Lopez said.