Chicago Theological Seminary- history and determination of future of historic elements and Meadville Theological School
and risks to historic Woodlawn-University Aves.

A service of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and its website www.hydepark.org and Preservation and Development/Zoning task force. Join the Conference: your dues support our work.

Return to Preservation Hot. History and Preservation home. Southside Pres. Action Fund. Development Hot. Development-Pres-Zoning home. University and Community (incl. to discussion of the Milton Friedman Institute controversy). 61st Street Community Garden (site of the new CTS and of controversy)
CTS' website is http://www.ctschicago.edu. An independent site: http://www.ctsthreatened.org. The UC says it will be putting up its own documentation site.

Record: Seminary Co-op Bookstore Project- photos and quotes. For more info. email semcoopproject@zenfolio.com or visit http://www.semcoop-project.org. Also on view at the Hyde Park Historical Society, 5529 S. Lake Park Ave.

New preservation group on the three blocks from 55th to 58th is woodlawnaveinjeopardy.org. email hydeparkwoodlawn@gmail.com. facebook group: Save
Woodlawn<https://www.facebook.com/groups/190964347624198>
Ed note- Visit the page on the issue of "Save Woodlawn" and a Woodlawn Corridor Historic District.
See release/ letter- HPKCC endorses historic district.

Meadville

September 8, Saturday, 10 am-6 pm. Seminary Co-op Documentary Project Open House. 5757 S. University. Help document the history and move of the Co-op through portrait and taped stories, bring asrtifacts for exhigbition and archival storage. semcoop-project.org, 773 752-4381.

CONTINUE THE STORY OF THE PLANS FOR REPURPOSING the structure--At a March 28 Meeting by U of C and Ald. Hairston in March or April on construction plans on 5757 University to Woodlawn including the alley and 58th St., we learned much. Process will continue with small meetings. People largely liked the design. Principal concerns were with change of 58th to a pedestrian walkway (including loss of parking and desire for easement rather than UC ownership), the repositioned alley, minority and women firms and hiring, and McGiffert House. The schedule was shared.

Latest. The baroque-style Reneker Memorial Organ will be moved to Bond Chapel, 1050 E. 59th St. The new CTS is up and running - and seeking rental partners.

Retrospective Exhibit "Seminary Co-op Documentary Project @ Rockefeller" Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn through June 27.

A Group seeking to preserve Woodlawn Avenue is forming and met July 14, 2011, Thursday, 7 pm at 5528 S. Woodlawn. 773 848-7248. See call in the new Save Woodlawn/Woodlawn Ave. District page. Strategy and goals have been formulated.

Tours of sections of the area are scheduled by Chicago Historical Society Sundays July 10, 17, 24 at 1 pm meeting at the sw corner of 58th and Woodlawn. Sam Guard conducts. Read about the tours.

In June the University announced that the Milton Friedman Institute is folded with the Gary Becker Institute into a Gary Becker Milton Friedman Institute for Research in Economics. Becker will chair, Lars Peter Hanson will be research director, and Steven Levitt will oversee much of the research.

March 2, 2011? Preservation Chicago listed the former Chicago Theological Seminary among the "Seven Most Endangered" structures in Chicago. Visit below their description, used with permission. Visit http://www.preservationchicago.org/userfiles/file/ctsseminary.pdf or http://www.ctsthreatened.org. See also there "Woodlawn Avenue at Risk?" by Sam Cholke, Herald writer.

See at bottom the version by Jack Spicer published in the Hyde Park Herald March 9, 2011 and the June 2011 HPKCC Conference Reporter (with Herald permission).

CTS in February 2011 received a million dollars to promote its mission and a goodly grant towards green-LEEDS certification of its new building.
On February 24 U of C announced it has bought 5707 and 5711 S. Woodlawn from Meadville in addition to the main building and that to the south, now owning about half to 2/3 of the footage on Woodlawn between 57th and 58th Streets as well as all in the 5800 block and 58th west of Woodlawn to Cottage Grove.

Just to give you all an update: (from Jack Spicer)

•All the windows have been removed from the smaller Hilton Chapel and replaced with grey opaque glass.
•The main altar (south) window has been removed from the larger Taylor Chapel. The seven side windows (12 New Testament apostles and the 9 Old Testament prophets) remain.
•The Tree of Jesse windows from above the west entrance have been removed. The other Jesse window just to the north remains.
•The windows that have been taken to date are the ones CTS is claiming for their new building on 60th Street.
•According to UofC's Steve Wiesenthal at the last "community" meeting, the windows that now remain will be removed. Their destiny was not revealed at that time -- possibly this was explained last night. I understand that the University is trying to form a small group of community members to help find local foster homes for their orphaned windows.



Critics and documentation website The Chicago Theological Seminary Documentation Repository: http://www,CTSthreatened.org (launched Nov. 11, 2010). This is not associated with Chicago Theological Seminary or the University of Chicago. CTS and the University will have their own website documenting the building, history, and construction.


As per Jack Spicer:

This is a new site established to provide on-going documentation of the architecture, art, and history of the Chicago Theological Seminary complex of buildings. Please return as the documentation accumulates, and pass this notice on to all you feel would have interest. You may view and add to the following categories of documentation: Photos: photographs of any element of the CTS buildings. You may add your own photos (or historical photos you find) to the gallery by following the simple instructions.
Published Commentary: published material regarding the CTS buildings. Again, follow the simple instructions to add material.
Personal Commentary: statements you would like to add to the record.
If you have trouble sending any material by the directions offered, you may send them directly to:
<info@ctsthreatened.org>
or
<dcs@uchicago.edu>

CTS [actually University] offers a few details on building. Herald, July 20, 2011. by Sam Cholke

Architects for the University of Chicago posted new renderings of a remodeled Chicago Theologial Seminary on July 6, only to take a portion down within a few days.... The renderings show many of the details presented at a January meeting, including the conversion of the current alley entrance between the building wings to the new main entrance foyer. University Spokesman Steve Kloehn said the new renderings are still drafts and plans will not be finalized until the university completes a zoning amendment for the campus [see University Master Plans and Planned Development 43]. The university is making the zoning change partially to include the seminary buildings within the university's larger zoning district.

The drawings, several of which were posted temporarily, show features hinted at during the January meeting, including a second floor glass walkway that extends from the back of the west wing of the building. Plans call for rerouting the alley that currently bisects the seminary wings. The renderings provide few details on how the traffic pattern would change and show the back of the building opening onto a paved and landscaped walkway that appears to be the same width as the current alley and parking spaces.

"With strategic design interventions, this project will reorganize entrances and circulation and make the site open and accessible to the entire university," says Philip Chen of Ann Beha architects in comments on the firm's website. "This project will also introduce new and innovative building systems, and add state-of-the-art teaching, research and conference facilities - all while knitting the building into the fabric of the historic campus and gardens."

The other drawings posted are similar to those presented at the January public meeting, adding a few details to a subterranean classroom to be built under the buildings' east courtyard on East 58th Street.

Boston-based Ann Beha Architects is nationally recognized for its adaptive reuse of historic buildings and the choice to hire the firm was widely praised by preservationists when it was announced in May 2010.

Though removal of some of the seminary's stained glass windows moved forward this summer, the university has moved slowly on presenting final plans for the building. The windows are being remove for renovation before they are installed in the seminary's new building south of the Midway Plaisance on South Dorchester Avenue.

Chicago Theological Seminary-- the present building and the one under construction, positions

Chicago Theological Seminary wraps around the north side of 58th St. northward on the east side of University Avenue and northward a short distance on Woodlawn both sides of the street (east- McGiffert Hall north of Robie House.) Movement to this site started in 1915; buildings were recently sold for $44 million to University of Chicago for the Milton Friedman Institute. The university is constructing a new CTS at 60th and Dorchester that will lease land for a nominal amount. See A brief history of. Window removal started the last week of October, 2010--then was stopped as the Missouri company did not get the proper city permits. Full scale removal resumed in the last week of December.

The University and architects held a presentation and discussion October 6 2010 noon. The crux is that by pre-agreement between the University and CTS a goodly proportion of stained glass windows and some other artifacts will move to the new seminary or otherwise be taken out (future undetermined) and not used in the totally repurposed chapels. Historic areas will be respected, other parts will be redone within old masonry and some new construction for mechanicals, circulation, or a lecture hall will be created (not going outside the CTS footprint). Seminary Co-op Bookstore goes into new ample space (including reading space and a student-run cafe) in McGiffert Hall on Woodlawn. 58th Street will become more a connector, perhaps entirely pedestrian. Cost has not been determined and will not be until Beha architects are further into design-- they have been researching and considering, including the real and size needs of the new uses. Some glass removal will start soon, full construction in 2012. the next public meeting will be after design process.

The Chicago Maroon's take was that the meeting "tempered concerns." Not for all, including representatives from Landmarks Illinois and a spokesperson for heirs of Graham Taylor, a major professor there and pioneer of sociology early in the 20th century. They stress that the chapels and the glass are site-contextual and should not (or few should) be taken to the new seminary.

Hyde Park Herald October 13 2010. by Sam Cholke. Windows out within months

In a report to the community, the University of Chicago and its architect, Ann Beha Architects, said it would move forward on removing half of the Chicago Theological Seminary's stained glass windows in the coming months. "We're expecting half of the stained glass windows will remain in the building after restoration and cleaning," said Steve Wiesenthal, the university's in-house architect.

Under teh University's agreement to buy the buildings, the windows in the smaller Thorndike Hilton Chapel will be moved to the seminary's new building south of the Midway Plaisance, along with the windows above teh alter in the larger Graham Taylor Chapel. Another small window depicting the tree of Jesse, several grave markers and other artifacts will also be moved.

The university has not yet determined what will happen to some Taylor Chapel windows depicting the 12 apostles, but Wiesenthal said it was unlikely they would remain in the seminary. "There's always value to keep old windows in place," said Jim Mann, a representative from teh nonprofit Landmarks Illinois, at the Oct. 6 lunch meeting with the community.

Separating the windows in the main seminary building at 5757 S. University Ave. has touched a nerve in teh architectural preservation community, though many seem happy with the university's choice of ann Beha Architects to lead the project. "I think it's a great choice," said Jack Spicer, a member of the Hyde Park Historical Society.

Firm founder Ann Beha presented the results of months of research on the building, a prelude to the upcoming design process. "The Chicago Theological Seminary is to a great extent an office building, so office space is very much on ur mind." Beha said.... Wiesenthal said the existing building would meet much of the immediate space requirements for the department. "We're in teh ballpark for space needs," he said. The university is looking to add a large lecture hall, likely under one of the seminary's two courtyards, according to Wiesenthal. additional mechanical systems would likely be installed under the other courtyard, he said.

The seminary's proximity to many other historic buildings including the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Robie House, will be considered during the planning process, according to Arnold Randall, the project lead in the university's department of civic engagement. "We realize we need to look at it in a larger context," Randall said. The university has set up a committee of university and community members to advise the administration on how it handles its architectural resources. "This is the first that we'll run through that process."

Randall said there would be another meeting with the community once the design process has made some progress. "When we have something to show you, we'll come back with something to show you."

 

 

U of C announces full historic evaluation and documentation before any work- (We suspect eval. and documentation and public meeting was the intent of the University, just not previously ready to state it.)

Stay of Execution: U. of C.: Work at Chicago theological Seminary building is delayed. By Sam Cholke

The University of chicago will not begin any work on the main Chicago Theological Seminary building until the fall, after a full historical assessment has been completed. There had been some confusion about when work would start on the 5757 S. University Ave. building after seminary President Rev. Alice Hunt suggested in a letter to the seminary community that the stained glass windows would be removed overt he summer. "No construction work will take place until the assessment phase is completed. As plans for the building progress, there will be further presentations and opportunities for discussion," the university says in a prepared statement on the building released July 9.

Massachusetts-based Beha Architects and university architects will conduct an extensive photo documentation, architectural analysis and further research into the building's history over the summer. The findings will e presented to the public at a meeting in the early fall. "We are in an assessment phase and the very beginning of the planning phase," said Steve Kloehn, a spokesman for the university.

The University of Chicago purchased the seminary's buildings in May 2009 for $44 million as the new home for the Milton Friedman Institute for research in Economics with a promise to build the seminary a new home on the south campus. The seminary plans to take several of teh building's stained glass windows and install them in the chapel of its new building...

Herald editorial July 14 2010. Crediting the U. of C. for a wise decision

The University of Chicago has announced that the Chicago Theological Seminary's headquarters at 5757 s. Woodlawn Ave. will not undergo reconstruction until a thorough documentation, analysis and public report on the historic significance of teh property is conducted. The forum is likely to be convened in the fall. This announcement amounts to a real victory for the community members and preservationists who have been clamoring for the university to take a more sensitive approach to the project...

The University of Chicago deserves real credit for this move.... We hope that in the ensuing months, the historic value of the building as it stands will be reconsidered by both the university and the seminary. Is it not possible to keep the property intact and still purse the aims of these institutions? The historic interior spaces that have garnered so much support in the community are, as they currently exist, splendid contemplative spaces. is there no value to a think tank in having areas dedicated to enhancing cognition? We think it's a natural fit.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Theological Seminary can commission new art glass or even preserve existing art glass in need of a good home. There is no benefit that we can see to pulling individual pieces out of context and hanging them in a building that was not designed to showcase them.

Finally, there is a very practical matter to consider as we consider the building as a whole. Taken together, the beauty of the buildings interiors and exteriors are surely of greater value than they are in bits and pieces. We believe that the institute will have greater success in its fundraisng efforts if it showcases their stunning historic property in which it will will be housed. at the same time, the seminary should not decrease the building's value for what amounts to taking souvenirs.

 

Chicago Theological Seminary construction will start soon (late spring 2010) at 60th and Dorchester

The building at 60th and Dorchester will have Silver LEEDs designation and the stained glass windows from the current buildings at 57th and University will be installed in the chapel of the new building--- acknowledged to be a challenge. The current windows in the old building, to be remodeled as the Friedman Economics Institute, will be replaced with leaded glass. A dedicated tree will also be moved. The project expects to exceed WME standards. 2011 or 2012 are goals for construction. The staging area displaced the 61st St. Community Garden.

In May 2010 the University chose the Boston firm of Ann Beha Architects for conversion of Chicago Theological Seminary (repurposing and expansion). The current historic structures will be a point of departure. the firm says it does contemporary design within historic context and has a large portfolio of East coast preservation projects. Future of the chapels and stained glass (some at least moves to the new CTS) as well as Seminary Co-op Books remains unknown.

Meanwhile, dispute over the replacement of Chicago Theological Seminary replacement with and renovation for Milton Friedman Institute have flared up again, including 1) gutting much of the structure likely under future plans from newly-appointed architect Ann Beha of Boston, including removal of at least part of the stained glass to (as naturally desired) the chapel of the under-construction CTS building south of the Midway negating the historic and classy religious character of the structure (Coolidge firm?) 2) alleged corporatization of the University and distortion of mission and funding in favor of those departments that bring in money, 3) governance and accountability issues. Other questions might be lack of public meetings etc. to a project adjacent to the university but (presumably) outside its planned development area, such non-communication possibly setting a new precedent. The University has promised to keep the facade at least of the main building, but is exploring three options for new building to the north (one at least threatens houses on Woodlawn, considered part of an historically significant streetscape.
The University has recently said the process will be "slow and public"- whether this means meetings (as is expected with projects outside the UC planned development) was unclear.
Seminary Co-op Bookstores will move to the former dorm and office building of CTS, McGiffert Hall, north of Robie House, seen as an opportunity to redesign and become ADA accessible, all at UC expense.

According to a letter from CTS president to constituents as reported in the June 30, 2010 Herald, the windows in Hilton Chapel and the Christ Window in Taylor Hall will be removed in summer 2010 for conservation work and preparation for use in the new building south of 60th St. Other changes in the chapels are likely near term. University spokespersons said the schedule has not been settled. The parties have not, as far as is known, responded to preservationists' request for photodocumentation and for keeping and reusing as much as possible.

 

Preservationists come out for documentation, saving in place, at least safe storage. Recommended to Landmarks Commission

Herald, June 9 2010 Save the glass, Preservationists fear fate of CTS art glass. By Sam Cholke

The architectural preservation community is going public with concerns about the planned rehabilitation of the Chicago Theological Seminary buildings even as university professors protested the intended use of the site. The University of Chicago purchased the seminary's buildings in May 209 for $44 million as the new home for the Milton Friedman Institute for Research in Economics with a promise to build the seminary a new home on the south campus.

Jack Spicer, Chair of the Hyde Park Historical Society's preservation committee, suggested landmarking the main seminary building at 5757 s. University Ave. to the city's Commission on Chicago Landmarks June 3. The hearing was one of two the commission holds annually to hear suggestions from the public. "We asked [including to the University] that there be a full photographic documentation; we think that would be very important for the university to do," Spicer told the commission. "There are approximately 200 art glass windows, 50 are stained glass." The university has suggested moving some of the stained glass windows to the new seminary's chapel. "The fate of the remainder is unclear," Spicer told the commission. Spicer said careful storage of the remaining art glass was the very least the university should do and questioned whether any of the glass needed to be moved at all. "World-famous economists could stand a little Christian iconography," Spicer said, a remark that drew chuckles from the audience. [Charles Staples, one of the first to thoughtfully sound the alarm in a letter to community organizations, stressed that the glass and other appurtenances are site-specific. A counter argument is that such items belong to the departing institution.]

The commission accepts all public suggestions during the hearings. "It's just kept in mind as part of an ongoing work program," said Peter Strazzabosco of the city's landmarks commission. "There is no timetable and no action required" of department staff, he said. Despite the lack of mandate, public suggestions have become landmarks in the past, according to Strazzabosco. Roberts Temple church of God in Christ, 4021 S. State ST., where Emmett Till's funeral was held, was initially suggested as a landmark at a public hearing.

Nonprofit preservation group Landmarks Illinois has also expressed concern about how the stained glass in the seminary is addressed. "Any time you start taking out stained glass windows there is a risk," said Jim Peters, president of Landmarks Illinois. "It's a gorgeous complex, and people are concerned it gets done properly."

In addition to the art glass, several interior portions of the building also deserve special consideration, including chapels, Spicer said.

The University of Chicago contracted with Boston-based Ann Beha architects last week to lead the conversion of the seminary buildings. The university has committed to not tearing down the main seminary building and is still determining the scope of the building's rehabilitation, according to Steve Kloehn, a spokesman for the university Kloehn said rehabilitation of the buildings would be a slow and public process...


Report by Jack Spicer, Chair, Preservation Committee, Hyde Park Historical Society. (Distributed to the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference board June 3, 2010, after distribution at the June 3 public-recommendations hearing of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks and interpolated with letter version in Hyde Park Herald June 16, 2010.

Chicago Theological Seminary Buildings
5757 S. University Avenue, north side of E. 58th Street between S. Woodlawn and S. University Avenues, Directly west of the Robie House and north of Rockefeller Chapel and the Oriental Institute.

Herbert Riddle, Riddle and Riddle 1923-28

The University of Chicago has recently purchased the Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS) buildings on the north side of 58th Street between Woodlawn and University avenues. The university intends to reuse these buildings and reuse them as the Milton Friedman Institute for Research in Economics.

There are three buildings in the group -- a small chapel at the northeast corner of 58th Street and University Avenue, a dormitory on Woodlawn Avenue facing the Robie House, and the main building on University Avenue where the Seminary Co-op Bookstore occupies the basement. A tower and bridge straddle the alley between the two main buildings. The buildings were designed by Herbert Riddle and built between 1923 and 1928. Riddle was teh architect for Mather Tower in the Loop, as well as many buildings in New York. He lived in Hyde Park at 5626 S. Woodlawn Ave. in a house he designed and built in 1912.

There are four immediate architectural concerns regarding the planned major renovation of these important [Orange Rated] historic buildings:


The historical Society will express its concerns to the University.

Letter from Charles and Joan Staples in June 16 2010 Herald, similar as to sent to HPKCC.

In teh "Save the glass" article in the June 9 issue, the Herald gave some urgently needed attention to the fate of the stained glass windows that grace the historic and beautiful chapels recently sold to the University of Chicago.... We are not against creative reuse of older buildings, nor have we taken a position on the Friedman Institute. We do share some of teh same concerns voiced by professor Bruce Lincoln about the university's corporate goals and how they impact the wider Hyde Park community (Herald, June 9, p. 54, "Why we're fighting changes at U. of C.)

Our immediate concern, however, is the fate of the sacred spaces within the current buildings. The Thorndike Hilton chapel was donated to CTS by the Henry Hiltons in memory of their son. it is a small gem. The Graham Taylor Chapel was named for a noted minister, social work practitioner and respected Chicago historical figure. He was an associated of Jane Addams and founded the Chicago Commons. His lectures eventually led to the founding of the Social Service Administration school at the University fo Chicago. Victor Lawson, of the Chicago Daily News, a noted beneficiary of CTS, supported the salary of Taylor, gave him newspaper space in the Daily News and gave the money for the chapel.

Churches like to say that their mission is not bricks and mortar, but beauty is the spiritual expression -- and respect for the gifts of others to that mission is an important value.

Artistically and architecturally, removal or desecration of the artist's expression is a violation.

Fortunately, efforts are underway to seek much needed landmark protection for the chapels complex. We don't understand why the chapels could not be kept intact for community events. In addition, the Taylor Chapel has a an outstanding organ built especially for that space. The business-minded U. of C. could rent out the chapels!

Finally, we have been in contact with Graham Taylor's grandson, also named Graham Taylor, who lives in the East, who wonders why CTS and the university are indifferent to such a legacy. We invite others in the community who share our concerns to visit these places and to make their voices heard.

Letter of Charles and Joan Staples to HPKCC May 27, 2010

Ever since the announcement early this year of the sale of the physical plant of the [CTS] we have had many concerns. It seemed strange that the beautiful neo-Gothic facility so exquisitely designed for ecclesiastical use would be converted to a totally unrelated purpose. We wondered what would become of the uniquely beautiful and historic sacred spaces, hoping that these would be retained for their rightful and appropriate use by CTS and others.

More recent disclosures about plans for the new modern CTS facility to be built in Woodlawn are cause for great alarm. it appears that the plans include the stripping of the magnificent features of teh worship facilities, in particularly the incredibly beautiful and dignified legacy of stained glass, for relocation in a totally different architectural milieu. To us, this action would be a desecration of the awe-inspiring Graham Taylor and Thorndike Hilton Chapels, intended by their donors to be permanent places of worship, meditation, and refuge. What will become of the baroque-style tracker organ built not long ago by the famed quebec organ maker, Karl Wilhelm?

We grieve the prospect of the ruination of what should be a protected historic and religious landmark. Its destruction would be a sacrilege, not the first proposed by CTS. About 50 years ago, they were ready to tear down one of the finest of Frank Lloyd wright's creations, the historic Robie House, to make way for a dormitory. Only a big, public protest including intervention by the architect himself headed off that potential disaster. It is time again for concerned persons to rise up and protest what appears to be the destruction of the two beautiful and historic chapels, named, in the case of the Graham Taylor one, for an important historic figure in the history of Chicago.

Letter from Rolf Achilles, Faculty, Art Institute of Chicago, Art History and Historic Preservation; Curator, Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows.

The stained glass windows in the various Chicago Theological Seminary rooms are all of great significance. With a many windows as are installed in noted buildings, I don't say this lightly. Let me explain:

The building, designed by Riddle & Riddle and built starting in 1926, is a unique exponent in the Midwest of the interest in authentic Medieval, specifically, Gothic/Renaissance styling that was then experiencing its last gasps worldwide. Riddle & Riddle's building is a Gesamtkunstwerk, where the masonry, the metalwork and the stained glass are all of a suite. Everything fits together and plays off each other. The stained glass windows are by Willet Stained Glass studios of Philadelphia and by Chrles J. Connick of Boston.

The Tree of Jesse window in the University Street entrance is one of the finest windows Willet Studios painted in the 1920s. the mostly clear windows facing 58th Street also show finely painted small figures. The Renaissance-inspired library with its heraldic windows playing against a superb plaster ceiling and impeccable wood carving are unique in Chicago for their variety, function and quantity.

Though a few years earlier, Hilton Chapel is a unique gem in Chicago and the Midwest. The windows are by the famed Connick Studio, and like the others, superb, and a very rare example of their style in the United States. The large Biblical figures in an upstairs reading room are the finest of time and style in Chicago. Also, the environment the windows are in -- the Bedford Indiana Limestone surrounds and the glazed/unglazed brick walls with their terra cotta inserts -- is unique in the nation.

the atmospheric quality attained by Riddle & Riddle may well have found its inspiration in the widely published and publicized photographs of various English cathedrals by Frederic, H. Evans. Again, this is unique in the Midwest, possibly the United States.

If the collective Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS) imagination fails to save the interiors and windows in their original locations, I hope there is enough imagination to at least make the effort to document these national treasures with all necessary care.

What I write above I said similarly on July 2, 2008, when I was asked to tour the CTS and verbally give my opinion on the interiors.

A letter appeared by descendents of Graham Taylor July 28.

Charles and Joan Staples submitted this letter to University and Ann Beha Architects in October 2010. As published in the Herald, "Maintain the virtue of the CTS headquarters."

....The University of Chicago has hired an architectural firm that is said to specialize in historic preservation to remodel the building. The question for us: Why is it necessary to destroy two historic and aesthetically outstanding chapels in order to convert this building into offices, classrooms and meeting space?

We believe that it is not necessary to destroy these chapels. They could be incorporated into the aesthetic and useful purposes of the "new" building. If additional space is needed for offices and classrooms, other buildings owned by CTS (McGiffert House) other space owned by the university could be utilized. And the chapels, like Rockefeller Chapel and other spaces owned by the university, could be rented out to provide additional income for the university's good causes.

In letters responding to the concerns of the grandchildren of Graham Taylor, who is commemorated by one of the chapels, the point is made that the mission of CTS is greater than glass and stone. Yes, artistic creations start with materials like stone, glass, paper, canvas or paint. But the creator produces a work of art that reflects more than the original materials. Tearing out a window or two and incorporating them into a totally new space that is quite different is akin to cutting out one of Monet's water lilies from his paintings and using it to decorate a swimming pool.

Long ago, CTS recognized that destroying the landmark Robie House would be a mistake. It found other solutions to its need for student housing, and preserved an important artistic creation for posterity. Similarly, the university once contemplated closing International House. It changed its mind and improved it, creating an important housing and meeting place to meet the goals of a major university.

We have no way of consulting either Milton Friedman or Graham Taylor, but we suspect both of these gentlemen would respect the saving and use of the current chapels as we have suggested.


Thoughtful letters continue

Jack Spicer

Ruth Knack asks for Hyde Park Historical Society why religious iconography in the windows should be a problem when such iconography is all over the UC campus: rethink the decision.

Jonathan Fine of Preservation Chicago says how the windows are integral to the building.

Jim Peters of Landmarks Illinois says UC, community should stop structure by structure approach and landmark the Woodlawn corridor.

Neal Vogel, stained glass consultant, says the windows will suffer under adaptive reuse and puts this in context of centuries of experience and gives a number of options.

The Herald continued to print editorials against the decision.

 

Top

Brief history.

Published by the Hyde Park Historical Society in the Hyde Park Herald of September 1, 2010

The Chicago Theological Seminary was incorporated in 1885, making it the oldest institution of higher education continuously in existence in Chicago. The original charter states, "The object shall be to furnish instruction and the means of education to young men preparing for the Gospel Ministry, and the Institution shall be equally open to all denominations of Christians for that purpose." The seminary was originally located on Ashland Avenue overlooking Union Park where it steadily grew in size and influence into the twentieth century.

In 1915 the Seminary was under pressure to move, and then-President Ozora Davis saw the advantage of affiliating the Seminary with a major university. As a result, the CTS began a formal relationship with the divinity School of the University of Chicago and moved into shared space on campus. Davis fostered this relationship while maintaining the seminary's autonomy and enabled, through endowments and donations the building of the CTS campus on 58th Street between Woodlawn and University avenues.

The seminary's dedication to social welfare and diversity stems from its earliest days with the appointment of Graham Taylor in 1892 through the founding in 1968 of Operation Breadbasket in McGiffert Hall by Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. other notable efforts in social welfare include the Chicago Center for Black Religious Studies, the Center for Community Transformation and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Religious Archives Network. The Seminary recently installed Rabbi Dr. Rachel Mikva as the Rabbi Hermann Schallman Chair in Jewish Studies, the only such endowment at an established Protestant seminary.

Today the seminary is affiliated with the United Church of Christ . It offers master's degrees in divinity and sacred theology, and a doctoral degree in ministry as well as a PhD. program in bible, culture adn hermeneutics (Jewish and Christian scriptures) and theology, ethics and the human sciences.

Notable individuals
In 1892 the seminary invited Graham Taylor to become professor of Christian Sociology. He established the first distinct department of sociology in an American theological school. He worked closely with Jane Addams to establish the Chicago Commons settlement house in 1894. he also founded a graduate school of social work, which later became the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration. This organization stemmed directly from classes and programs offered at Chicago Commons. Among those who taught at the Commons were social reformer Jane Addams, educator John Dewey, and sociologist Charles Henderson.

Ozora Davis was president of the CTS from 1909-1930. he crafted its relationship with the university, and was responsible for teh successful fund-raising campaign in the 1020s for the new campus and endowed chairs.

Other notable individuals have been associated with the CTS. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. received an honorary degree of divinity from CTS in 1957, as did Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 1986.

Hyde Park Campus
The current Hyde Park campus, recently purchased by the University of Chicago for repurposing as the Milton Friedman Institute for Research in Economics, has a long and interesting history. Herbert Riddle was the architect for the group of buildings that was built between 1923 and 1927 under the presidency of Ozora Davis.

the Thorndike Hilton Chapel is a small, exquisitely chapel designed for private meditation and prayer with stained glass windows designed by Willet Studios and patterned after the stained glass in Chartres Cathedral. The chapel is immediately accessible from 58th street.

Graham Taylor Hall, on the second floor at the south west corner of the main building, features Willet Studios stained glass windows with one large window illustrating the crucifixion and individual windows for each of the nine Old Testament prophets, and for each of Jesus' twelve apostles. it also houses the brilliant Reneker Organ, a mechanical-action instrument built by Karl Wilhelm.

The University Avenue Entrance Stair Tower leader leading to Taylor Hall has extraordinary Willet Windows depicting the Tree of Jesse.

The Cloisters is an L-shaped, light-bathed room located off the 58th St. terrace. The corbels are carved to represent symbolically the 1913 Kansas City Statement of Faith. Notable is the bronze statue of the Good Samaritan by Laredo Taft, who was responsible for many of the bronze, stone an marble statues throughout the seminary.

Lawson Tower is a 165 foot square tower named for Victor Lawson, longtime supporter and, on his death, donor of $3.3 million to the seminary.

The George Common features 10 leaded windows manufactured by Willet Studios. They represent the 10 virtues and incorporate the names of notable seminary graduates.

The CTS is building a new campus at 60th and Dorchester, which is expected to be complete in 2012. More information on the Chicago Theological Seminary, including a live webcam of the construction site, is available on its website at: www.ctschicago.edu.

Top


Preservation Chicago places the CTS buildings on its 7 Most Endangered List, March 2, 2011

From their description, used with permission. Visit http://www.preservationchicago.org/userfiles/file/ctsseminary.pdf or http://www.ctsthreatened.org.

Chicago Theological Society
5757 S. University Avenue
Architect: Herbert Riddle,
Riddle & Riddle
Date: 1923-28

Overview:
The University of Chicago recently purchased the Chicago Theological Seminary campus and intends to renovate the three buildings into the Milton Friedman Institute for Research in Economics. However, serious concerns have been raised by the planned destruction of these important interior elements, as well as to the ultimate fate of the entire Woodlawn Avenue historic corridor.

There are three buildings in the group -- the small Hilton Chapel, a dormitory to the east, and the main building to the west, which includes the architecturally significant Lawson Tower.

[(additional text supplied): There are serious concerns regarding the planned renovation of these important Orange-rated buildings: the immediate threat to the historic stained glass windows in the chapels and the entrance/stairtower, threat to the significant interior spaces of the main building, and destabilizing effect on the Chicago Landmark-worthy Woodlawn Avenue Corridor.]

History:
The buildings were designed by Herbert Riddle and built between 1923 and 1928. Riddle was the architect for Mather Tower in the Loop, as well as many buildings in New York. He lived in Hyde Park at 5626 S. Woodlawn in a house he designed and built in 1912.

Historic Stained Glass
The main building was designed with 28 major neo-Gothic art glass windows from the famed Willet Stained Glass Studio. This was Willet’s most significant commission in Chicago. Lorado Taft said, “They are the finest I have seen in America, and come nearer to the splendor of Chartres than I had ever hoped to see in this part of the world.” The windows, all displaying Christian iconography, were perfectly integrated into the building, from both inside and out, that the whole was a unified, living work of art. Seventeen of the windows have already been removed by the University. Serious, irreparable damage has been done to the cultural, historic, and aesthetic value of the building and of the removed windows. The eleven most important windows, which include depictions of the twelve New Testament apostles, the nine Old Testament prophets, and the Tree of Jesse, remain in place; but the University intends to remove them as “inappropriate” to the building’s new use by the Milton Friedman Institute.
photo credit: David Schalliol

Significant Interior Spaces
There are six important interior spaces, all in the main building: Hilton Memorial Chapel, Clarence Sydney Funk Cloisters, Graham Taylor Hall, the Library, West Lobby and Stair Tower, and Lawson Tower (with entrance room). The Hilton Chapel is called a “tiny gem” in the AIA Guide to Chicago. Although the loss of all the Hilton Chapel’s art glass windows has compromised its integrity, it still features outstanding neo-Gothic vaulting, ceramic tile work, and carpentry. The Cloisters and the Taylor Chapel are even more magnificent. All the interior spaces include important embedded art work and finishes that are expressive of the Chicago Theological Seminary’s religious heritage. It is unclear how much of this will be removed and lost as “inappropriate.” The University has hired Ann Beha Architects of Boston to plan and design the renovation.

Woodlawn Avenue Corridor
With the occupation of the CTS buildings, the University of Chicago campus continues to move steadily eastward into the residential portion of Hyde Park. The 5700 block of Woodlawn Avenue is one of the most important historic residential blocks in Chicago. This large group of remarkable buildings serves as the graceful transition between the campus and the community. These buildings tell the story of how Hyde Park came to be what it is -- a neighborhood of great beauty, surprising diversity and intense creativity. Fifteen of the original residential buildings remain, including the landmarked Robie House by Frank Lloyd Wright and twelve “Orange-rated” houses. Only four of the houses are privately owned and the rest are institutional, but it still retains the appearance of a residential street. However, eight of the buildings on the block are currently for sale or have recently changed hands, and all will be put to new institutional uses. As the 5700 block of Woodlawn evolves from residential to institutional, there is currently no protection against demolition or disfigurement, except Robie House. Nor is there an agreed upon community planning process to manage the inevitable changes coming to Woodlawn Avenue. The re-purposing of the Chicago Theological Seminary buildings by the University of Chicago is part of a larger current of change that could quickly compromise the historic Woodlawn Avenue corridor.

Recommendations:
Preserve all of the remaining historic elements of the Chicago Theological Seminary. Create a Historic Landmark
District for the 5700 block of Woodlawn.
Take Action
• Write or call the President of the University of Chicago (Robert Zimmer, rzimmer@uchicago.edu, 773-702-8002) and
encourage him to preserve the remaining eleven major historic stained glass windows and the significant interiors of
the former CTS buildings.
• Contact Alderman Leslie Hairston: Ward Office: 2325 E. 71st Street, Chicago, IL 60649, phone: 773-324-5555,
e-mail: lhairston@cityofchicago.org.


Woodlawn Avenue at Risk? Hyde Park Herald, March 9, 2011. By Sam Cholke

Preservation Chicago identified the Chicago Theological Seminary as one of its seven most threatened building for 2011.

"As the 5700 block of Woodlawn evolves from residential to institutional, there is currently no protection against demolition or disfigurement, except Robie House. Nor is there an agreed upon community planning process to manage the inevitable changes coming to Woodlawn Avenue," Preservation Chicago says in its briefing on the seminary. "The re-purposing of the Chicago Theological Seminary buildings by the University of Chicago is part of as larger current of change that could quickly compromise the historic Woodlawn Avenue corridor."

The University of Chicago purchased the seminary in 209 as the new home for the Milton Friedman Institute for Research in Economics. To renovate the building, the university hired An Beha Architects, which proposed last month retaining much of the building's current appearance.

"We're always trying to not be there at the last minute when it's too late to say something," said Jack Spicer, a Hyde Parker adn Preservation Chicago vice president. "I don't know that there will be any demolition, but there will be a lot of changes. The idea is there is no way to know what will happen, but it is clear something will happen." Spicer continues to be critical of the university's plans to remove many of the stained glass windows from the seminary, but said there is also a larger concern now for the character of a residential block now owned almost exclusively by the university.

The 5700 block of South Woodlawn Avenue is home to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Robie House and the Chicago and Meadville-Lombard buildings on the block. Once the deal goes thorough, the university will own 11 of the 17 buildings on the block. Though most of the buildings were once residential, only four remain as as private residences.

The university has held several meeting on plans for the Chicago Theological seminary and said it will continue to come back to the public as plans progress. The university has also formed a Historic Resources Survey discussion group to advise on changes to any historic property owned by the university. The group is composed of architects, planners and community members. It is an advisory body and holds no decision-making power, according to Steve Kloehn, a university spokesman. He said the group is not a public body and has no official authority and the university would not disclose the names of anyone in the group to protect their candor. Kloehn said the group wil eventually be about 12 people and is currently about eight to ten individuals. Kloehn said the group has met four times and advised on the seminary, amongst other projects.

Spicer was critical of the group, advocating it include stakeholders from the neighborhood, city planners and a representative of the alderman's office. he said the group should meet publicly to guarantee the university is responding to legitimate concerns. "They need to answer to someone besides themselves," he said.

 

Meadville Theological School

... has sold its main building (and since the remaining houses) to the U of C, future use not disclosed. Fleck house at 57th and Woodlawn was sold for the new Chabad Jewish Center. Meadville is in discussions with Andover Theological School about a merger; some Meadville classes are being moved to Catholic Theological Union and Lutheran School of Theology. The main building is supposed to be preserved- the main question holding up moving out is a space for the Wiggin Library.

With the changes at Chicago Theological Seminary, this presages big changes for Woodlawn Avenue where the UC now owns probably more than half of the frontage.

The Herald July 13 2011 announced that Meadville will move to an undisclosed location on Michigan Avenue in the Loop. President Lee Barker said it makes perfect sense and has brought in many donations. The school will still be heavily involved with the consortium of Hyde Park seminaries. They still plan on documenting the current buildings.

 

From the June 2011 Conference Reporter

The Chicago Theological Seminary Buildings and the Woodlawn Avenue Corridor

by Jack Spicer, HPKCC board member and vice-president of Preservation Chicago

This article was originally published in the Hyde Park Herald on March 9, 201, and is reprinted here with permission.

Location: North side of E. 58th Street between S. Woodlawn an S. University Avenues
Architect: Herbert Riddle, Riddle & Riddle
Built: 1923-28

the University of Chicago has recently purchased teh Chicago Theological Seminary buildings ont he north side of 58th Street between Woodlawn and University Avenues. The University intends to renovate these building and reuse them as the Milton Friedman Institute for Research in Economics.

There are three buildings in the group -- the small Hilton Chapel near the NE corner of 58gh and University Avenue, a dormitory to the east on Woodlawn Avenue facing the Robie House, and the main building to the west on University Avenue opposite the University's Main Quadrangle. The Lawson tower and a bridge straddle the alley between the main building and the dormitory. The buildings were designed by Herbert Riddle adn built between 1923 and 1928. Riddle was the architect for Mather Tower in the Loop, as well as many buildings in New York. he lived in Hyde Park at 5626 S. Woodlawn in a house he designed and built in 1912.

There are serious concerns regarding the planned major renovation of these important Orange-rated buildings: the immediate threat to the historic stained glass windows in the chapels and the entrance/stair-tower, threat to the significant interior spaces of the main building, and destabilizing effect on the Chicago Landmark-worthy Woodlawn Avenue corridor.

Historic Stained Glass. --The main building was designed with 28 major neo-Gothic art glass windows from the famed Willet Stained Glass Studio. This was Willet's most significant commission in Chicago. Lorado Taft said, "They are the finest I have seen in America, and come nearer to the splendor of Chartres than I had ever hoped to see in this part of the world." The windows, all displaying Christian iconography, were so perfectly integrated into the building, from both inside and out, that the whole was a unified, living work of art. Seventeen of the windows have already been removed by the University of Chicago. serious, irreparable damage has been done to the cultural, historic, and aesthetic value of the building and of the removed windows. The eleven most important windows, which include depictions of the twelve New Testament apostles, the nine Old Testament prophets, and the Tree of Jesse, remain in place; but th University intends to remove them as "inappropriate" to the building's new use by the Milton Friedman Institute.

Significant Interior spaces -- There are six important interior spaces, all in the main building: Hilton Memorial Chapel, Clarence Sydney Funk Cloisters, Graham Taylor Hall, the Library, West Lobby,and Stair Tower, and Lawson Tower (with entrance room). The Hilton Chapel is called a "tiny gem" in the AIA Guide to Chicago. Although the loss of all the Hilton Chapel's art glass windows has compromised its integrity, it still features outstanding neo-Gothic vaulting, ceramic tile work, and carpentry. The Cloisters and the Taylor Chapel are even more magnificent. All the interior spaces include important embedded art work and finishes that are expressive of the Chicago Theological Seminary's religious heritage. it is unclear how much of this will be removed and lost as "inappropriate." The University has hired Ann Beha Architects (Boston) to plan and design the renovation. Based on the firm's reputation and past work they appear capable of doing an outstanding renovation that respects and embraces the historic interior spaces and their integrated art and craft. It is hoped the University will take full advantage of Beha's talents and not interfere with the possibility of a high-quality, practical, but historically honest renovation.

Woodlawn Avenue Corridor -- With the occupation of the CTS buildings, the University of Chicago campus continues to move steadily eastward into the residential portion of the Hyde Park neighborhood. The 5700 block of Woodlawn avenue is one of the most important historic residential blocks in Chicago. This large group of remarkable buildings is unique in Chicago and serves as the graceful transition between the campus and the community. Even more important, these buildings tell the story of how Hyde Park came to be what it is -- a neighborhood of great beauty, surprising diversity and intense creativity. It's the emblem of the neighborhood and should be treated with great care, its stewardship shared by the University and the community. Fifteen of the original residential buildings still remain, including the landmarked Robie House and twelve other "Orange-rated" houses. (Four other houses were torn down by CTS to make room for a dorm when CTS was prevented from demolishing Robie House for that purpose in 1959.) Only four of the houses are still privately owned. Although the rest are now institutional, luckily the block still maintains the appearance of a residential street. as the 5700 block of Woodlawn continues to evolve, there is no protection against demolition or radical disfigurement of any of the buildings with the exception of Robie House. Eight of the buildings on the block are currently for sale or have recently changed hands, and all will be put to new institutional uses. The repurposing of the Chicago Theological Seminary buildings by the University of Chicago is part of a larger change that could quickly destabilize the historic Woodlawn Avenue corridor.

What can be done? --
1) Write or call the President of the University of Chicago (Robert Zimmer, rzimmer@uchicago.edu, 773 702-8002) and encourage him to preserve the remaining eleven major historic stained glass windows and the significant interiors of the former CTS buildings.

2) write or call the 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston (lhairston@cityofchicago.org), 73 324-5555) and encourage her to start the landmarking process for the 5700 block of Woodlawn Avenue.

For more information go to:

www.CTSthreatened.org, www.preservationchicago.org/userfiles/file/ctsseminary.pdf


Local tours tout landmark proposal. Herald July 13, 2011. By Daschell M. Phillips

Hyde Park resident Sam Guard led the first of his three walking tours of Woodlawn an University avenues from East 55th street to East 58th Street [Sunday]. The tours are in conjunction with a landmark district proposal recently filed by Jack Spicer, a member of the Hyde Park Historical Society. Guard, who said he does not want to be called a historian, said except for three buildings in the proposed landmark district, all of the houses and buildings look just the same as they did when he first saw them back in the 1950s.

"Most of these buildings, which were built in the 1920s, are wonderful time capsules into the past showing us the prosperity of the middle class," Guard said. "The homes are a hallmark of the comfortable lifestyle they were able to live, and I want to keep it that way."

Guard said the three blocks between Woodlawn and University avenues from East 55th Street to East 58th Street is the only concentrated area of architecturally significant houses of its size in the city. During the tour, Guard leads participants from Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, which is already landmarked, that is located on the south end of the proposed district, to a George and William Keck three-flat, the designers of the house of the future at the World's fair [of 1933], located at the north end. The proposed district consists of 82 buildings, including 72 residential buildings, one club building, four churches, two schools and three fraternity houses. Of the district's 72 residential buildings, 55 were built as single-family homes. The remaining residential buildings include three duplexes, two three-flats, seven apartment buildings and one dormitory. Guard not only tells the tourists about the stories of the architects who designed the properties but he also shares a few stories, good and bad, about the people who lived in them.

Many of the buildings in the district are owned by the University of Chicago and have been converted to new uses, such as office space. Guard said the university's decision to move the seminary Co Op Bookstore from 5757 S. University to the McGiffert House, 5751 S. Woodlawn Ave., causes him concern. "First you move the bookstore, then you add a coffee shop, then you add a sign, and then more changes are made - it's a slippery slope," Guard said. "We need to emphasize the symbols of permanence in this world that is changing so rapidly it makes your head spin. We need to stabilize communities."

The university has not made any plans to add additional businesses in the proposed landmark district. "This isn't anti-development or university we just want to keep the good stuff because this is the backbone of Woodlawn," [corridor?] said Guard, who said renovation of the inside of the buildings doesn't concern him as much as demolition would.

Demolition of any buildings within the district could have an adverse effect on the neighborhood if what replaces it is not sensitive to issues of architectural style, materials, scale and setbacks on the lot, according to the Historic University and Woodlawn Avenue Group, a group of community members who are in favor of the proposed landmark district and have launched a website at woodlawnaveinjeopardy.org.

The next two tours will take place at 1 p.m. on [Sunday], July 17 and July 24.