Landmark shield urged for St. Boniface

Please call Ald. Walter Burnett today at 312-432-1995 and ask him to landmark St. Boniface.

The city is weighing whether it can acquire St. Boniface Church, Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. told neighbors.

In a meeting Jan. 22 in the ward office at 1463 W. Chicago Ave., the 27th Ward alderman suggested that the Archdiocese of Chicago was open to trading the parcel at 921 N. Noble for another city property. The challenge would be to find money to maintain the property, Burnett said.

A report on the community website was verified by EVA members in attendance.

The East Village Association board on Jan. 15 asked Burnett to recognize the church's historical and architectural significance with landmark designation. The case for St. Boniface is made in earlier East Village Association posts.

Architect Scott Rappe, chair of EVA's Planning, Preservation & Development Committee, sent Ald. Burnett this statement:

A decade ago, the East Village Association was at the forefront of the effort to save the St. Boniface campus from impending demolition. The grassroots efforts of many community groups, neighbors, former parishioners and the preservation community were successful in gaining a stay of demolition to find alternative uses for the buildings.

Unfortunately the past 10 years have been wasted. Although the archdiocese went through the motions of sponsoring design competitions and issuing requests proposals, it has never been fully committed to saving the buildings. Instead of simply selling the property outright to any of the several parties that have shown interest, the archdiocese has pursued a policy of demolition by neglect.

In light of the growing urgency presented by the rapidly expiring 90 day demolition hold, the board of directors of the East Village Association passed the following motion at its Jan. 12, 2009 meeting:

The East Village Association supports the preservation, restoration and reuse of St. Boniface Church and rectory and the reconstruction if the dismantled school facade and requests that the City of Chicago recognize their historical and architectural significance with landmark designation.

Alderman Burnett, we respectfully urge you to protect this important architectural, historic and cultural community asset by calling for it to be landmarked immediately.

Neighbors have received letters from the Archdiocese of Chicago with a Jan. 23 start date for demolition. Midwest Wrecking will demolish the church, the Jan. 12 letter says, and the fire department may use it for training beforehand.

The city placed a 90-day hold on demolition on Dec. 5. EVA has not been able to verify if the demolition permit has been issued, Rappe said, but the city is allowed to do so.
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