Thursday, April 24, 2008
Marian Apparition in Wilmette
One of the first Architectural Preservation projects I was ever involved in was at the Loyola Mallinckrodt Campus in Wilmette (the village where I now live). I may have been more naive 6 years ago, thinking that somehow a beautiful, liturgically significant structure could somehow be supported by the Church, but reality set in on this Herman Gaul structure (pictured here), and my eyes were opened quite wide to the nature of the property development "industry" (swindle?).
The Village of Wilmette purchased the property for approximately $25 Million with the intention of "preserving" the main building. I was assured (as were various preservation agencies) that the architectural integrity of the building would be upheld. Almost immediately, the Village set out to de-Christianize the structure, removing any religious adornment, crosses, stained glass etc in the manner of rather careful French Revolutionary.
I was foolish enough to speak up as to how the architectural integrity could be upheld if the decorative elements were removed, and was promptly asked to pay a ransom of $100K to rescue the stained glass from removal. I really liked the stained glass, but not for $100K. The Village and their connected developer eventually dropped all pretense towards preservation, tore out a beautiful set of trees (which really annoyed people in Wilmette), and removed a serene statue of Mary, some graceful Latin verbage (did it say Mary Immaculata?) above the main doorway and eventually uncrossed the Cross which topped the magnificent structure, leaving it as a spire.
My children and I went for a walk earlier this week in the adjoining park, observing the desecrated grottoes and spoiled marygardens that once graced the greenspace, when I was surprised to find that a Mary statuary had indeed returned to one of the grottoes. I had to photograph the grotto this morning, as I am sure the Jabobins will be out later today to remove any possible mention of the Christian tradition in Wilmette.
As my wife pointed out, there is also beautiful statue of St. Francis in a marygarden at the (also beautiful) Presbyterian Church in Deerfield. The statue is exactly where it should be, though, it would bewilder John Knox as to why there is an Italian carved in stone in his yard. But the devout know that there is a reason for these things, and human nature encourages appreciation, regardless of the best efforts of the worst elements of society to abolish what is beautiful about the Liturgy.