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Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral’s Historical Windows Shattered After Vandals Strike Louis Sullivan-Designed Church

The church is an official Chicago landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places. Church leaders are working with a restoration company to make repairs.

Windows at Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral, 1121 N. Leavitt St., were damaged Thursday
Quinn Myers/Provided
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UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — Several windows at a historical Orthodox church were damaged Thursday after someone threw rocks into the building.

Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral, 1121 N. Leavitt St., is one the few houses of worship designed by famed Chicago architect Louis Sullivan.

Built in 1903, the church is a holy site for Orthodox Christians and a popular destination for architecture buffs and historians. The cathedral and rectory have been an official Chicago landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places since the 1970s. 

But sometime Thursday morning, three windows at the front and rear of the church were smashed-in by rocks, said Rev. Alexander Koranda, the cathedral’s dean and administrator.

Koranda was returning to the church from a blessing around 10 a.m. when he noticed two of the front stained-glasses windows had been damaged. He walked around the building and noticed another window behind the altar had also been broken, he said.

“All of a sudden, I see this black hole in the window here… I knew immediately it must have been knocked out,” he said. “I opened the front door and the frame was knocked in, rocks on the floor.”

Koranda said the incident likely happened sometime between 6 a.m. and before he returned around 10. He’s filed a police report, and a department spokesperson said detectives are investigating.

Credit: Provided
Damaged windows at Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral after someone threw rocks into the church Thursday

The vandalism comes after Holy Trinity recently completed an extensive exterior renovation of the historic property.

Finished mostly by late summer 2021, the rehabilitation project replaced cracked stucco walls, refurbished its extensive metal ornamentation and installed new windows in the church’s rectory, among other upgrades.

After he discovered the damaged windows Thursday, Koranda salvaged much of the broken stained glass, which is original to the building. He said the church will work with its restoration company to repair the windows.

In addition to his spiritual duties, Koranda said he feels a special obligation to maintain and take care of Holy Trinity, both for parishioners and visitors. The church freqently hosts tours and is a regular site in the Chicago Architecture Center’s annual Open House Chicago event.

When Koranda discovered the damage Thursday, he was mostly just bummed out, he said.

“I wasn’t mad. I wasn’t upset, I wasn’t, ‘well, we need to catch these folks or something,” he said. “We have a lot of love here. You know, we pray for the whole world. We constantly are praying specifically for the peace of the city, for its civil authorities. And so that’s what we do here.”

Credit: Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago
Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral Rev. Alexander Koranda holds rocks that were thrown threw the church’s windows Thursday

Since its construction in the early 1900s, Holy Trinity has been a gathering place for Orthodox Christians in the city and from all over the world. 

Founded by a group of Eastern European immigrants, the cathedral was even partially funded by Russian Czar Nicholas II, according to the Chicago’s landmark directory. 

But the church’s mission also extends to serving the surrounding community, Koranda said. Beyond its almost daily services, Holy Trinity hosts neighborhood meetings, numerous 12-step programs and a weekly meal for neighbors experiencing homelessness.

Koranda said he doesn’t know why someone threw the rocks into the church’s windows, but noted it happened after several recent high profile crimes and ongoing public safety issues have been reported in the neighborhood.

He said he felt it was important to publicly address the vandalism because of how much the church means not just to its parishioners but to Chicagoans and people around the world.

“People in this area have suffered through incidents, carjackings, muggings, and also even the church, we’ve also kind of suffered from the same fallenness of the world that we’re all trying to kind of get through,” he said. “I feel like our church is providing a lot of opportunities for people who are broken and for ways to serve them on many levels. And we’ll continue to do so.”

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