Thursday, January 19, 2006
Today I toured St. John of God, the Henry J. Schlacks Church on beautiful Sherman Park in Chicago. SJOG, closed as a Parish for some fifteen years, has been most recently used as an athletic facility by Maryville Academy, the Catholic Childrens organization. Pardon my gnarled photographs. (I have more coming).
The Art Institute of Chicago had a lengthy study on SJOG, with ambitious (impossible?) proposals for alternate use (and not as a gymnasium) that I read through last fall. The building is well constructed, but per the ARTIC, was in danger of being demolished (it is not, unless it falls down).
Along with (very helpful) representatives of the Archdiocese of Chicago, I noted
1) The John Mallin paintings and Frescoes are about 75% in tact, and of museum quality.
2) The 3 visible altars are in tact and stunning.
3) There are some major water leaks in the towers and on the side buildings. The main chapel is pretty much dry.
4) The basketball court is not in use, but looks to have been a good place for a game.
The neighborhood (Garfield Park, though this is acutally Sherman) has take more than a few punches on the chin, but because of lack of new development has a sort of pristine nature to it. In my estimation, this is a restorable church.