Hugh Garden’s Chicago West Side Church Needs Some TLC

21 Jun

North facade of Chicago’s Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church. Photo by author.

The terra cotta and windows of Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church on the city’s Near West Side looks like it’s in need of some serious attention.

South elevation of Chicago’s Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church. Photo by author.

This 1901 church, a designated Chicago Landmark originally designed by architect Hugh M. Garden (1873-1961) to house the congregation of Third Church of Christ, Scientist, is showing its 111 years with spalling white glazed brick along its south elevation.  More concerning is some of its damaged and missing pieces of exterior terra cotta work, particularly at its geometricized column capitals.   The column capitals at its main (north) portico have been wrapped in tarp for years now.  Is work to repair or restore these columns ever going to get underway?

Chicago’s Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church’s north portico with its perpetually wrapped columns. Photo by author.

Broken glass along the west elevation of Chicago’s Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church. Photo by author.

Probably the most frightening development is the destruction of what appears to be original art glass windows.  Shattered glass in the west facade’s uppermost windows have been filled in with plywood.

West facade of Chicago’s Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church. Photo by author.

Chicago’s West Side, so impacted by poverty and disinvestment and by the destruction wrought by mid-century urban renewal, has been expecting its own renaissance for the past decade.   Isn’t it important for us to see our historic resources like Metropolitan Missionary as assets in this neighborhood’s revitalization?  Is the City of Chicago going to let one of its own recognized architectural masterworks, and one of its few local landmarks on the city’s West Side, slip into dilapidation?

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