May 20, 2020

Romanesque Church in Bronzeville Approved for Landmark Status

The 134-year-old Blackwell-Israel Samuel A.M.E. Zion Church building in Grand Boulevard was designated an official Chicago landmark by City Council today.

Designed by the prominent architectural firm of Edbrooke and Burnham, the Romanesque Revival-style building at 3956 S. Langley Ave. was originally home to the Oakland Methodist Episcopal Church before housing the current congregation in 1929. Its exterior features a rusticated limestone facade, a towering pyramidal roof with projecting gables, and arched windows, doors, portico, and belfry.

The building played a continuous role as a cultural, educational, and social hub for the area’s African-American community, hosting national organizations, clubs, lectures, conferences, and civil rights gatherings. Users included the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Conference and National Council, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

The property received a final recommendation for landmark status by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks in February 2020.

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

 

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