Church by one of Chicago's earliest architects could move toward landmark status today

April 7, 2011

(photo courtesy of YoChicago)

A 124-year-old Kenwood church designed by one of Chicago's first architects will likely take a step toward landmark status today, city officials said.

The imposing Kenwood United Church of Christ, bell-towered Richardson Romanesque beauty at 4600 S. Greenwood, is scheduled to be recommended for preliminary landmark status at today's meeting of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. (Above photo is courtesy of the very cool real estate site YoChicago).

Built in 1887 as Kenwood Evangelical Church, the stone building was designed by William W. Boyington (with an assist from Henry B. Wheelock) an early Chicago architect who had been among the city's most prolific until the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 wipes away virtually all of his work. The church, the old Water Tower and Pumping Station at Chicago Avenue and Michigan, the gatehouse at Rosehill Cemetery and the Soldier's Home, a former Civil War-era convalescent home at 35th and Lake Park, are among the most prominent of Boynton's few remaining built designs.

The Kenwood church and its architecture dates back to the neighborhood's early incarnation as a wealthy gaslight-era suburb. It is muscular building of arches, columns and a seven-story bell tower, all rendered in Maryland granite and Bedford sandstone. Inside, the church turns delicate as wood trim and wooden trusses dominate the 1,700 seat auditorium.

Approval would allow city staffers to continue researching the building to make a case for permanent landmark status, possibly within a year.