The Chicago City Council has approved a landmark designation for the Monumental Baptist Church. Located at 729 E. Oakwood Boulevard in Bronzeville, the church was originally built in 1899 by architects Patton, Fisher, and Miller.
Exhibiting a staggering five landmark criteria, the building meets Criterion 1 - Value as an Example of City, State, or National Heritage, Criterion 3 - Significant Person, Criterion 4 - Exemplary Architecture, Criterion 5 - Work of Significant Architect or Designer, and Criterion 7 - Unique or Distinctive Visual Feature.
The church was originally built by a congregation at the old University of Chicago campus in Bronzeville. As the neighborhood transitioned between demographics via the Great Migration, the church failed to integrate itself and ultimately closed in 1925. In 1934, the building was purchased by another Baptist group and was rechristened as the Monumental Baptist Church.
The parish was led by a string of prolific pastors who extended their reach beyond the church and influenced and advocated for social justice and political efforts in the city. The church’s architecture exemplifies the Romanesque Revival style, including a large central tower surrounded by gables facing out in each direction. The exterior is adorned with rounded archways and rusticated stonework. A soaring dome rises above the central worship space.
The church was found to meet the Integrity Criterion, as the structure remains almost entirely intact. Changes to the building are limited to the replacement of the roof, new entrance doors, and some new windows, work that is consistent with a building of this age.
With City Council approval, the church has been officially designated as a Chicago landmark and will be saved from any future attempts at demolition. The landmark designation will protect the church’s exterior elevations including rooflines.