Historic mystery revealed in proposed conversion of Wicker Park Church

Date: 
04/22/2015
1905SchillerSide

Church appears to be one building at 1905 W. Schiller

SchillerEvrgrn

Corner of Schiller and Evergreen

The church at 1905 W. Schiller, at the point of Wicker Park, appears to be a single structure. But, hidden behind the yellow bricks, there is another story. It was revealed at the Wicker Park Committee's (WPC) Preservation and Development Committee (P&D) meeting Tuesday night in the Wicker Park Field House, 1425 N. Damen Ave. 

EvrGrnSide

Evergreen side of the church

Architect John Conrad Schiess presented a site plan and renderings of the church showing that it is actually three structures. Two are homes from the 1800s and the other is a later structure. 

Most recently having served as the Mision Cristiana Church, 1905 W. Schiller first served the congregation of Holy Resurrection Serbian Church in 1905. At that point, the structure was only what is shown in the site plan below as Lot B. 

Orig1905Schiller

Original 1905 W. Schiller in early 1900s*

It was originally a "modest two-story home." "In 1905, Archimandrite Sevastian Dabovich was made head of the Serbian Church Mission in America and a parish priest in Chicago. Because a number of Serbian immigrants had settled in the Wicker Park District by the turn of the century, the mission purchased a modest two-story house at 1905 W. Schiller (formerly 8 Fowler); and a small chapel was created in the dwelling’s reception room. On July 4, the first liturgy was served and the church was named the Holy Resurrection," according to Wicker Park From 1673 Thru 1929 and Walking Tour Guide. 

Interforum Holdings, Inc. is in the process of buying the church which will be under an LLC. He then proposes to make it three free-standing buildings. "As the architect said at the meeting, the buildings are underutilized and we want to bring them back to life," said Igor Blumin, Vice President of Interforum. "The two homes are just asking to be converted." 

While they are envisioning returning the two historic buildings into residences again, they see the close to 3,170 square foot Lot C building as the home for two-units, dividing the building vertically. 

1905SchillerPlat2

Proposed sub-division site plan

Their first hurdle is the Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). They are seeking setback variations so they can sub-divide the current lot into three. Looking at historic maps, it appears that the parcel was originally two lots. 

Since the church opted out of being in the Chicago Historic Landmark Wicker Park District (designated in 1991), they do not have to follow regulations of the district. They asked for a review by P&D, as suggested by 1st Ward Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno. 

"While the structures are not in the Landmark District and therefore have no Landmark controls over them, they are surrounded by the Landmark District," said P&D Chair Ed Tamminga. "Our interests are that the front elevations of the two single family homes be sympathetic to the streetscape." 

1905NorthElevation

Proposed Schiller elevation

The primary recommendations made by the Committee to the developer included, making the roof lines of the historic homes straight across with decorative cornices and each front differentiated from the other; smaller curb cuts; and an attempt to minimize loss of street parking spaces by having any fire hydrants close to the curb cuts. The current curb cut on Schiller will be eliminated. On Evergreen, there is one proposed curb cut to access the two single family garages and another for the indoor parking for Lot C. 

When asked about roof decks, Schiess indicated they planned one on top of each single family garage with tentative plans for the other building. If they do include roof decks on Lot C, they will be brought in from exterior walls, thus not be seen from the street. 

On Wednesday, Blumin said that he felt the group was one of the best he has ever worked with. "Their suggestions were really thoughtful and helpful." 

If everything goes well with ZBA in May, they would hope to be able to be in construction mode in late summer.

*Courtesy of Wicker Park From 1673 Thru 1929 and Walking Tour Guide 

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Comments

1905 W Schiller St., Chicago, IL

When Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral sold the church in 1971 there was a codicil in the sales agreement that it remain a church for 50 years.

Good story Elaine!

Good story Elaine!

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