Crain's Chicago Business reported this week that the Archdiocese of Chicago has issued an RFP (request for proposal) for St. Boniface Church. Crain's says a pre-submittal conference is scheduled for September 30.
Although it's 130-foot-high bell tower continues to dominate its West Town neighborhood, the church, designed by architect Henry J. Schlacks in 1902, has been shuttered since 1989. In 2003, the Archdiocese held an architectural competition for proposals for the site that attracted entries from such stellar Chicago firms as Studio/Gang, Booth Hansen, A. Epstein, and winner Brininstool and Lynch.
You can find a great deal of information on St. Boniface on the web. My article on the competition and the pitfalls and controversies surrounding the preservation of the city's historic churches, including photo's and renderings, can be found here. Saint Boniface: A Community Concerned includes information on the church's history, and the battle to save it. It includes a generous photo gallery, and more images on the church, still spectacular even in its current abandoned state, can be found on the websites of Josh Gibson's and Carey Primeau, an example of which is shown above.
Needless to say, none of the ideas of that competition have been carried forward. In the Chicago Historic Resources Survey, St. Boniface is rated "Orange" - for possessing " some architectural feature or historical association that [makes it] potentially significant in the context of the surrounding community." Crain's quotes commissioner of planning and development Arnold Randall as saying his department, which includes the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, "encourages" preservation of the church, and of the facades of an adjacent school building that was demolished in 2004.
November 7th is the deadline for submission of proposals to the, it is hoped, not ironically named Landmark Realty & Development LLC.
My kids' school looked at it a couple of years ago. The problem is, it's tucked away on small side streets, so drop off and pick up would have been a major pain. It's going to be a tough thing to sell to anybody, I fear.
Any clue how to obtain drawings (plans, elevations, sections) for this building? Sadly, the archdiocese says it doesn't have any documentation on its buildings...hard to believe, but that's the deal, I guess.
It breaks my heart to see this magnificant church in shambles. But by the grace of God, someone will save it and bring it back to all it's glory!
My husband went to St. Boniface school and we were married there in 1970. It would be wonderful if this beautiful church could be saved.
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