Following an October 7, 2015 fire that severely damaged the Shrine of Christ the King, in the
winter of 2016 the Archdiocese of Chicago applied for a demolition permit for the Shrine,
formerly St. Gelasius and originally St. Clara.
In response to this application, the Coalition to Save the Shrine was formed by preservationists,
parishioners, and neighbors to prevent demolition of this historic Landmark building. The
Coalition held events, generated news coverage and made a public case for preservation of the
building, which inspired pledges of over half a million dollars towards the Shrine’s restoration.
On February 28, 2016, despite having acquired a demolition permit from the City of Chicago,
the Archdiocese responded to the outpouring of support for the Shrine by deeding the historic
site to a religious order, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, thus ensuring the
Among the many people whose combined efforts saved the Shrine, some notable names
include Emily Nielsen, Gabriel Piemonte, Chris and Laurie Nielsen, Ward Miller, Bonnie
McDonald, Lisa DiChiera and Jack Spicer. Organizations which supported the effort include
Preservation Chicago, Landmarks Illinois, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation along
with the Hyde Park Historical Society, the Northern Illinois Historic League, the Kenwood Block
Club and the Woodlawn Residents’ Association. These are just some of the names of the
thousands of people who participated in the effort in many ways great and small, all of whom
were instrumental in the preservation of this historic building.
The success of the effort to Save the Shrine in 2016 was made possible by the success of the
2002-2003 effort to landmark the Shrine, a designation which protected it from a prior demolition
attempt by the Archdiocese of Chicago.
In March of 2016, the Coalition incorporated as Save the Shrine, a non-profit organization which
actively supported the Shrine’s restoration until 2021.
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