With Robert Taylor Homes long gone, a modernist church stands alone

September 23, 2011

The Robert Taylor Homes public housing high rises used to tower over Berean Baptist Church at 52nd and Dearborn.

But no more. With the housing development demolished a few years ago, the midcentury modern church sits alone, swimming in a sea of land bounded by State and Federal. Even the street on which it once faced--Dearborn--no longer exists there. The thoroughfare was demolished to create the superblocks on which the towers once sat:

It's a clever-looking building, completed in the mid-1960s. It's an example of how architects found ways to render modernism into an ecclesiastical forms. In additon to that great corner tower, I especially like the windows:

The church is in use and not under threat of demolition. But faith is an exercise in patience. So the church stands firm, waiting for the planned new neighborhood that's to be constructed under the Chicago Housing Authority's ambitious and years-behind-schedule Plan for Transformation. With that mind mind, maybe the church is not a remnant of the old neighborhood but a pioneer getting an early jump on the new.

And with a every pioneer, would you know it? There's the occasional prospector--in this case, our ever-present local parking company--looking to get in early and get rich: