June 22, 2016

Landmark Status Approved for North Lawndale’s Stone Temple Baptist Church

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A North Lawndale Baptist church that regularly hosted speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was approved as an official City of Chicago landmark by City Council today.

Stone Temple Baptist Church at 3622 W. Douglas Blvd. was constructed in 1926 as a synagogue for Jewish immigrants fleeing anti-Semitism in Romania. In 1954, the congregation sold the building to Baptist worshipers led by the Rev. James Marcellus Stone. Upon invitation from the Rev. Stone, Dr. King addressed his congregation on several occasions in the late 1950s and early 1960s, using Chicago as a base for his civil rights efforts in the North while also fighting for fair housing laws that led to the passage of 1968 Fair Housing Act. The church continues to make use of a podium and chairs that were used by Dr. King.

The current pastor, Bishop Derrick M. Fitzpatrick, is the Rev. Stone’s grandson.

“We have strived to embrace the rich history of our building and the legacy that was forged by my grandfather Rev. J.M. Stone. Understanding the rich history of the synagogue and the history of the Jewish community in North Lawndale, we have purposefully made the decision to keep as many of the original symbols as possible and to work to maintain the integrity of the structure so that anyone coming to our building would see the history and be proud to have visited our facility," Bishop Fitzpatrick said.

Designed with an eclectic mix of Romanesque and Moorish-inspired details by architect Joseph W. Cohen & Co., the brick and limestone structure has many features of a traditional synagogue, including a horseshoe-shaped sanctuary, slender columns and tapestry brick.

The landmark designation will protect all exterior elevations, the sanctuary, and entrance vestibule from significant alteration or demolition.

 

 

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