Saint Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral Stands Tall In Ukrainian Village

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From nearly any vantage point in the Near West Side, you can spot one of the baker’s dozen of ornate spires atop Saint Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral.

The church is located just off of Chicago Avenue at 835 North Oakley Boulevard. This stately 1915 structure, designed by Worthmann & Steinbach, was one of the 200 buildings featured during the 2015 edition of the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Open House Chicago.

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As Christmas nears, Chicago Architecture spotlights two churches featured during OHC–earlier this week we looked at the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist. Now we turn our attention to Ukrainian Village.

Saint Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral is an example of Neo-Byzantine architecture. It has 13 bronze domes topped with gold crosses. Numbers are important here–this lucky 13 represents Christ and his 12 Apostles.

The cathedral was built in the style of St. Lofia’s Church in Kiev. Construction took two years after groundbreaking in 1913. The building contractor, M. Ryan, used a unique form of construction for that time: a steel superstructure augmented with massive stone supports.

At 167 feet in height, it’s easy to findĀ from all points in the neighborhood. It’s large enough to hold more than 1,000 worshippers.

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Inside, the cathedral is noteworthy for its vaults and arches, intended to bring anyone who enters into a heavenly atmosphere. That’s due in part to the various shades of blue and gold. The stained glass windows are particularly striking with their azure hues, depicting Old and New Testament themes.

There’s also a central dome in the cathedral, covered with gold and displaying an array of six-winged angels. The entire floor of the main sanctuary is on a single level and covered with Italian marble for both beauty and durability.

Bill Motchan

Author: Bill Motchan

Bill Motchan is a writer and photographer, and a former resident of the West Loop. He can be reached at bill@ChicagoArchitecture.org.

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