Church Steeple Damaged by Wind Taken Down

City engineers said the 120-year-old structure was too dangerous to fix

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Steeple too dangerous to remove immediately, while others continue to oppose removal of landmark.

    Crews from Chicago's Department of Buildings finished efforts Wednesday to take down an Avondale church steeple damaged in Sunday's high winds.

    A massive crane during the early morning hours lowered the upper-most portion of the steeple of the Concordia Evangelical Lutheran Church to the ground.

    The entire structure was to come down Tuesday but efforts were delayed. The project was completed Wednesday morning.

    A Circuit Court judge on Monday issued an "emergency receiver" to remove the steeple after it was found to be loose.

    “In Avondale, that steeple is really a landmark,” said Ward Miller, interim executive director of Preservation Chicago, said of the 3-1/2 story steeple.

    Miller said had been talking to the church about getting official landmark status for the steeple, but city engineers ultimately decided the 120-year-old structure was too dangerous to fix and cranes were brought in Monday night, and church officials agreed.

    "It could have been a disaster killing people and damaging a lot of property had this gone unnoticed and developed to the point it would have fallen down," church chairman Ralph Krueger said.

    Also raising concerns was the estimated $100,000 cost for the crane and the roof repair that will be required, a cost that will be passed along to the 30 member congregation, along with the fee for a court appointed receiver.

    "If we had more people and more money in the thing we could take care of it. Now when they take it down, we have a big bill to pay. Hope it's not the death knell for us," congregation member Glenn Hickman said.

    Belmont Avenue remained closed eastbound to California and westbound to Rockwell and Chicago Transit Authority buses were also rerouted in the area until the steeple is removed.