PILSEN — A group fighting to preserve St. Adalbert Roman Catholic Church — a property in the heart of Pilsen that is slated to become apartments — now want the convent to be landmarked along with other buildings on the site.
Society of St. Adalbert recently filed a request to consider a landmark designation for the former convent at 1628 W. 17th St. with the city’s Department of Planning and Development. The move comes less than two months after Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) submitted a letter in support of landmarking the old church sanctuary and the rectory buildings on the 2.1-acre property.
The developer slated to redevelop the property, CityPads, supports landmarking the convent in addition to the other buildings, said Clint Sabin, the company’s spokesman.
Sigcho-Lopez does, too.
“We want to make sure that we are not forgetting a piece of the parish property,” the alderman said.
The four-story convent, named Our Lady of the Snows by the congregation, was constructed in 1928 and includes 52 bedrooms, a library, a chapel and a dining hall, according to the filing by the group. It formerly housed Sisters of Nazareth and the nuns taught children in the community at St. Adalbert School, said Society of St. Adalbert President Julie Sawicki.
Sawicki said landmarking the convent will prevent any “destruction of the property.”
“This property should have been landmarked a long time ago, but no one thought it would be necessary,” Sawicki said. “[Landmarking] would be a big step forward in achieving the objective of keeping the property as it has been for 142 years…We don’t want to see a developer ruin the property.”
Department of Planning and Development spokesman Kevin Bargnes said the city is actively considering a landmark designation for the St. Adalbert complex which could include the convent.
The archdiocese held its final mass at St. Adalbert on July 14, and the church was deconsecrated the following day.
In September, Block Club revealed CityPads was under contract to buy the church property for $4 million. It’s unclear if that deal has closed.
No housing is planned for the former sanctuary building. But the developer does plan to build co-living apartments in a new building just east of the convent and will rehab the rectory and convent to make way for studios, one-bedroom and “family-sized apartments,” the company previously told Block Club.
Parishioner Blanca Torres, who has been fighting to preserve the church with another group, St. Adalbert Preservation Society, said she supports landmarking the building but would like to see some of the convent’s 52-rooms repurposed for the community’s benefit.
Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago, has advocated for the landmarking of the property for years. If landmarked, Miller said the convent’s exterior would need to be maintained to keep with “the spirit, look, feel and design” of the 1920s building. Any additions to the building would have to be set back, Miller said.
Miller said “unique spaces” like the building’s entryway, the chapel and the library could also be potentially protected as part of a landmark. The former bedrooms aren’t unique enough for such protection, though, he said.
A landmark designation would allow for any reuse of the buildings to be completed in “a sensitive way,” Miller added.
The Archdiocese of Chicago could not be reached for comment.
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