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A prayer for Shepherd's Temple Baptist Church

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(photo by Lee Bey)

The old church--once a synagogue--crumbles on west Douglas Boulevard.

Built in 1913 as temple Anshe Kenesseth Israel, the house of worship was one of a handful of synagogues on Douglas‚ during North Lawndale’s days as a Jewish community. The former synagogue buildings remain and have been predominantly African American churches since the 1960s.‚ This one--Shepherd’s Temple Baptist Church at 3411 W. Douglas--was the home of Friendship Baptist Church from 1962 until the congregation built its own iconic African-inspired edifice at 5200 W. Jackson in 1983.

Shepherd’s Temple has been vacant for the last few years. Time is taking its toll. But there’s no denying the nearly century-old building, even in tatters, is still an architecturally powerful structure.‚ One hopes for resurrection.

(photo by Lee Bey)

And here, a detail of the arch that crowns the building. Look at the Louis Sullivanesque details in the terra cotta. In the stonework around the Star of David, you can see where the “E” from “Anshe” and “K” in “Kenesseth” was once.

(photo by Lee Bey)

The weather-beaten eastern side of the building.

(photo by Lee Bey)

(photo by Lee Bey)

(photo by Lee Bey)

Here’s what the building looked like when it was new. I wonder if‚ that big‚ Star of David is a window or stonework--and if its still there, sealed behind those bricks?

photo from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Digital Libraries

The Byzantine-styled building was designed by Aroner & Somers and cost $100,000 to construct.‚ Aroner & Somers also designed the 700-seat theater Orpheus Theater (which became the Tampico Theater before being demo’d in the 1970s) at Roosevelt and Ashland.

Man, don’t you wish this baby could have stuck around?

In other news: What are you doing Thursday, March 25th from 6-8pm? Tell the truth: nothing.‚ So get outta that chair--unless its a Barcelona Chair--and come down to IIT’s Crown Hall and celebrate Mies van der Rohe’s 124th birthday. Join me, architecture experts Edward Keegan, Edward Lifson, architect Edward Windhorst and IIT Dean Donna Robertson as we answer Mies trivia questions gameshow-style in “Riddle Mies This?” WTTW’s Geoffrey Baer will be the host/quizmaster.

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