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Fifth United Presbyterian Church of Ravenswood, Chicago, IL

November 17, 2016

Much of my research is what I call “grazing”: unintended, serendipitous discoveries gleaned while browsing here on the internet. Yesterday, the Fifth United Presbyterian Church in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood appeared as I searched for information early issues of The Inland Architect & News Record on another question entirely. Under normal circumstances — glancing at the perspective and plans for their Akron-icity — I might have passed it over, as there seemed no direct connection between S.S. and auditorium. On closer investigation, however, Fifth Presbyterian tells a far more interesting tale.

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As I tried to make heads or tales of any relationship between the plans and the perspective, it became clear something was amiss: the plans seemed to belong to a different building altogether. So, doing what architects do, I realized that the plans shown represented the Sunday School alone [the middle section of the three-part complex]; and that the sanctuary was intended as a second phase of construction, because there is a “knock-out panel” on the right edge of the ground-floor plan. Given a front-to-back organization in the eventual auditorium-sanctuary and the removal of the panel, this would have made an exemplary C-1 in the A-A typology.

Ravenswood is an in inner-city Chicago neighborhood unfamiliar to me [as a South-sider], so an image search seemed in order. That revealed this postcard view of Fifth Presbyterian showing even Phase One had been staged in two campaigns and that only the first of those had been completed. What we had — the building is gone — was just a bare-bones Sunday School doing double duty as temporary sanctuary. Apparently the congregation disbanded in the mid-1960s and the building site (which may have been at the intersection of Lincoln and Leland Avenues) is now a parking lot.

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Architect Daniel Everett Waid was also unkown to me, a welcome addition to represent the city I love.

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