click images for larger viewAt today's meeting of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, landmark designation begins for the Kenwood United church of Christ, at 4600 South Greenwood, designed in 1887-1888 by one of Chicago's most active early architects, William W. Boyington.
As always, the Commission staff, in this case Terry Tatum, Lisa Napoles and Nikki Ricks, with Brian Goeken editing, have come up with another first-rate report, 39 pages on the building, its architect, style and time, with a wealth of great photographs, both historic and current, a small sampling of which you see here. It's not up on the website yet, but I'm sure it soon will be, and then you'll find it here. As I mentioned before, these reports are some of the best Chicago history you can find, and you can download the stories of dozens of Chicago landmarks there.
Kenwood United Church of Christ, led since 1980 by Rev. Dr. Leroy Sanders, serving the now primarily Afro-American community with both spiritual and social services.
According to the Commission's report, the church was designed in the Romanesque style made popular at the time at Henry Hobbs Richardson . . .
The building’s rough-textured granite and sandstone walls, corner bell tower, round-arched entrances, windows and tower openings, and foliate-detailed columns and sculptural panels comprise a textbook example of this architectural style. A 1924 gymnasium wing by architects Chatten and Hammond is designed in a modest twentieth-century variation on the Romanesque Revival and complements the older church building.W.W. Boyington was on of Chicago's original architects, arriving in the city in 1853, and designing a large number of the city's most prominent buildings, including the original Board of Trade. Only a handful survive, most famously the Chicago Water Tower and Pumping Station, whose design was ridiculed by no less than Oscar Wilde ("a monstrosity with pepper boxes stuck all over it."), but which, as a survivor of the Great Fire of 1871, has become a symbol of the city.
Columbus Memorial Building, a million-dollar, 16 story skyscraper at State and Washington that was a symbol of the city's wealth. "A million dollars is a large sum to expend . . . when a building costing from $650,000 to $750,000 would in all probability bring in the same rental," commented the Chicago Tribune, as quoted in Daniel Bluestone's invaluable book, Constructing Chicago.
Above the entrance arch . . . they placed a ten foot high statue of Christopher Columbus that had been sculpted in Rome. . . The grand entrance for the building was twelve feet high and rose to the third story. The lower two floors of the building were clad in statuary bronze . . . An octagonal corner tower on the roof supported an illuminated glass globe of the world on which a cut jewel indicated the location of Chicago.Vanitas Vanitatum, Omnia Vanitas. The Columbus was unceremoniously destroyed in 1959 for a one-story "taxpayer" building - so called because it was designed to generate just enough revenue to cover real estate taxes while awaiting a more lucrative development - which was home for decades for Lebolt Jewelers.
That building was demolished, in turn, for the current State Street flagship of Old Navy. Now, over half a century after the destruction of the Columbus Building, that more lucrative development may finally be on tap. Crain's Chicago Business reported last month that a New York company has acquired the Old Navy property for a cool $23,000,000, a price that can't be justified except by replacing the current structure with a high-rise. Just don't expect anything like the Columbus's grandeur.
And the cycle continues.
Moses Ezekiel's Columbus Statue, once placed above the entrance of W.W. Boyington's demolished 1892 Columbus building, now in Arrigo Park at Loomis and Polk.