Parishioners Protest Planned Demolition of St. James Church

Unnamed benefactor has offered $5M to Chicago Archdiocese in quest to save south side parish

By Sharon Wright
|  Monday, Mar 25, 2013  |  Updated 7:26 PM CDT
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Unnamed benefactor has offered $5M to Chicago Archdiocese in quest to save south side parish. Sharon Wright reports.

Unnamed benefactor has offered $5M to Chicago Archdiocese in quest to save south side parish. Sharon Wright reports.

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Parishioners of St. James Catholic Church came together Monday to pray and protest the destruction of the Chicago landmark.

The Chicago Archdiocese plans to dismantle the church, at 2942 S. Wabash Ave. in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, and rebuild a couple blocks away. Church officials claim the estimated cost of renovation would be $12 million, while an entirely new building would cost $4 million.

Parishioners, however, believe a restoration would cost about the same.

"This is the mother church of the south side of the city. It's designed by Patrick Keely, the same architect who designed Holy Name Cathedral," said Ward Miller, the President of Preservation Chicago. "This building is Chicago."

A wealthy benefactor said he plans to meet with Cardinal George in hopes of reaching an agreement to restore the church. Eileen Quigley, the co-chair of the organization "Friends of Historic St. James," said the benefactor would put up $5 million.

Parishioners said they plan to continue fundraising and finding additional benefactors to save St. James.

"I am deeply involved in that church and I don't want to see it go down," said parishioner Monique Germain.

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