Shrine of Christ begins to rebuild

The first new roof truss for repair of the Shrine of Christ the King, 6401 S. Woodlawn Ave., which was gutted by a fire in October of 2015, is lifted into place Monday, March 26. – Marc Monaghan

Staff Writer

After two years of preparatory construction work and successful fundraising, the fire-damaged landmark church Shrine of Christ the King, 6401 S. Woodlawn Ave., will receive a new roof.

The church made its announcement during a press conference held on Friday at the construction site of the historic church.

According to Rev. Canon Matthew Talarico, director of Shrine of Christ the King church, phase one of the project will begin next week with crews installing the steel trusses for a new roof.

The installation was supposed to begin Friday morning but had to be postponed due to equipment failure.

Talarico said repairs were needed after a multi-alarm fire destroyed the churches roof nearly three years ago on Oct. 7, 2015, causing widespread damage to the church’s interior within the process.

Before the fire, the church was the only remaining Catholic Church in Woodlawn.

Talarico also said in order to expedite the church’s complete restoration of the project, ownership of the building and property was given to the Institute of Christ the King in late February 2016.

Since then, he explained that extensive masonry work has been done, while a completely new roofing system of steel trusses and purlins has been carefully designed and fabricated in view of its installation next week.

“To date, nearly $2.9 million has been raised for the Shrine’s restoration, including a $250,000 matching grant from the National Fund for Sacred Places,” Rev. Talarico said, during the press conference. “Partners for Sacred Places has been serving as the consultants for this project, while construction workers of good will have generously helped to keep the costs within the $3 million budget for this first phase of the church restoration.”

“This is like a capstone of the first phase of a three-phase project,” said Gabriel Piemonte, co-founder of Save The Shrine. ” In a sense, although we haven’t actually covered the roof yet, we now have all the material we need to do the most important parts, which are installing the metal beams [trusses]. It’s one of the most important parts. It’s the foundation for the roof.”

Piemonte said the roof will be completed this June with weather and other factors permitting.

He said phase two of the project will consist of interior work, which includes the installation of electrical work, bathrooms, fire compression system and the actual build out of the church.

Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago, Bonnie McDonald, president and chief executive officers of Landmarks Illinois, Emily Nielsen, parishioner of Shrine of Christ the King and co founder of Save the Shrine, and Elizabeth Ortner, owner of construction firm Studio 31a were in attendance at the press conference.