Renovations Begin on Shrine of Christ the King Church At 64th Street and Woodlawn

The restoration comes in the wake of a fire last October that almost led to the church’s demolition.

By Kaitlyn Akin

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Renovations to repair Shrine of Christ the King Church on 64th Street and South Woodlawn Avenue began on Monday. Contractors worked on clearing the interior of the church of the large piles of charred debris left from the fire last October that almost led to the church’s demolition.

After the refuse is cleared, lifts will be brought into the structure so engineers can re-examine the steel trusses supporting the roof. After this examination, they will design an entirely new steel roof structure that Canon Michael Stein anticipates will be installed in the late summer or early fall.

“We’re kind of in a race before winter to put a new roof back on the building,” Canon Matthew Talarico said.

This step toward restoration comes after a lengthy battle between community organizations that wanted to protect the Shrine and the Archdiocese, who considered the damage too extensive to reasonably repair. In late February, the Archdiocese gave the land to the Institute of Christ the King, a national Catholic organization headquartered at the Shrine. The Institute, along with numerous historical preservation societies and community groups, is now responsible for the restoration of the landmark building.

Installing a new roof is part of what the Shrine has designated as Phase 1. This stage also includes installing new thermal windows and repairing the masonry. The Shrine anticipates this initial phase will cost $2.5 million. They have already gathered $1.1 million through the Institute of Christ the King, various historical preservation societies, and community donations.

For the last few months, the congregation of Shrine of Christ the King has held services in the gym of the nearby First Presbyterian Church on Kimbark and 64th.

“Actually, our community has grown since the fire because many people already knew about us, many people would come for certain programs we offered, but then they felt a much greater attraction to be with us in this time of trial and to offer their support to us,” Stein said.