The damage to a historic West Side church from the Groundhog Day Blizzard is estimated at more than $1 million, according to church officials.
The storm battered the roof of First Baptist Congregational Church, 1613 W. Washington Blvd., as winds and lightning toppled parts of its two Gothic-style towers, according to senior pastor Rev. George Daniels. Bricks and stones—some weighing up to 2,000 pounds--crashed into the sanctuary and down to the walkways near the main entrance. Church officials later learned one of the six chambers of its organ, last valued at $1.2 million, was also damaged.
Additionally, workers discovered that two, 4- to 5-foot stones were lodged in the floor between the balcony and the first floor, according to church publicist Wanda Washington. No one was injured.
The church will continue to hold services indefinitely at the Hope Institute Learning Academy across the street, Washington said. A restoration fund for donations has been established at PNC Bank, 2154 W. Madison St.
The church, originally known as the Union Park Congregational Church, was completed in 1871 and survived the Great Chicago Fire the same year. The church then temporarily housed city offices in the fire’s aftermath. It was designated a state landmark in 2006, Daniels said. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places the same year, according to the National Park Service Web site.