With the devastating fire and current demolition of the 19th century Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago’s Englewood, I have historic churches on my mind. While sanctuaries are built for a specific purpose, do you ever wonder what happens when a congregation moves on? This happens more often than not as neighborhoods change. Instead of seeing a complete loss of these beautiful, spiritual spaces, many of Chicagoland’s religious structures have been born again and converted for residential use over the years. While some potential buyers may have issues with residing in a former religious structure, there are also people who like the character and charm of refitted properties. Whether it’s a South Side church or a convent in Bucktown, let’s take a look at some condos and townhouses currently listed on the real estate market.
Originally built in 1888, the Romanesque-style First German Baptist Church is located at the northeast corner of Paulina and Superior in Chicago’s West Town. It fell into disrepair and was nearly torn down in the 1990s. When the church-to-condo conversion project “Sanctuary on Superior” took place almost 25 years ago, this old building was a trendsetter in adaptive reuse. A number of vintage elements were kept in place, like the exposed brick walls and wood beam ceilings. There have been updates in this particular unit, including new appliances and under-counter lighting in the all-white kitchen, while a secondary entrance leads to a private paved outdoor patio.
Completed in 2013, Urban Treehouse is an adaptive reuse conversion of the historic Sisters of the Resurrection convent in the Bucktown neighborhood. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom penthouse currently for sale is one of seven unique lofts in this old building originally constructed in 1905. It comes with soaring 17-foot-high ceilings, exposed brick walls, and oversized windows. You can take in the view of the Polish Cathedral-style St. Mary’s of the Angels Catholic Church and its beautiful frieze located directly across the street. Plus you’re just steps away from the 606.
The exterior walls of St. Michael’s Church famously survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. While this grand structure in Chicago’s Old Town remains in use, the block around it was transformed into a private, gated community called St. Michael’s Square in the 1980s. The decade-long residential development project includes the former meeting hall, high school, and rectory. In the latter you’ll find this pleasing one-bedroom, two-bathroom unit for sale. I love the fact that it has actual separate rooms and a long hallway, plus a deck right off the kitchen.
This three-bedroom, two-bathroom condo is one of six total units in a multi-family residential building in Wicker Park that was converted almost 20 years ago. The simple brick edifice dates back to the 1890s. Over the years, the historic structure housed congregations like Hopewell Baptist Church. Just listed for the first time in fifteen years, the three-bedroom, two-bathroom condo is the opposite of cookie cutter with a number of unique architectural details. But it also feels perfect for the contemporary lifestyle. The unit comes with its own balcony as well as a shared outdoor terrace.
After the landmarked Shiloh Baptist Church in Chicago’s Kenwood sat vacant for more than a decade, developer John Liu bought the former house of worship for $650,000 in 2014. Naming it “The Dorchester,” he built 13 luxury townhouses behind the historic facade with all of them opening up to a central courtyard. A new driveway leads to a parking garage in the basement. Unit 3 is three levels full of modern luxury, including a kitchen outfitted in Zecchinon Italian cabinetry and primary bathroom with a beautiful white marble shower and separate soaking tub. On and off the market over the last year, the asking price for this four-bedroom, four-bathroom townhouse was recently reduced to $799,000.