Five Chicago Buildings Up For National Landmark Status

United States Customs House in the South Loop

United States Customs House in the South Loop

Chicago is a city of landmarks — Local, state, and national.  And some of our cherished local buildings are up for national recognition through inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

Late last week, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks approved the following five buildings to be sent to the Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council:

  • The Congress Theater (2117 North Milwaukee Avenue)
  • Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church (4501 South Vincennes Avenue)
  • Anthony Overton Elementary School (221 East 49th Street)
  • Third Church of Christ, Scientist/Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church (2151 West Washington Boulevard)
  • U.S. Custom House (610 South Canal Street)

Logan Square’s Congress Theater was designed by Fridstein & Company in a mixture of Italian Renaissance and Classical Revival styles and opened in 1926.   It closed three years ago, and last we heard (last year), it was in line for a $50 million rehabilitation into affordable housing and maybe a hotel.

Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church, in the heart of Bronzeville, opened as the Isaiah Temple to serve Chicago’s German Jewish immigrant population.  Reflecting changing city demographics, in 1921 it was bought by a black Christian denomination.  It is perhaps most well known for its pioneering association with music.  It has a long history of hosting performers from Dinah Washington to Bo Diddley.  And in 1932, was the birthplace of gospel music.

Anthony Overton Elementary School, also in Bronzeville, closed three years ago.  It opened in 1963 and was designed by Perkins+Will. Unlike the other buildings on this list, it is very modern looking, with glass-walled skywalks connecting the three main classroom buildings.

Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church opened in the Near West Side 1901 as Third Church of Christ, Scientist, designed by Hugh M.G. Garden.  It gained its current name in 1947, and has such monumental proportions and styling that it looks like a combination of a church and maybe a courthouse.  It was erected at a time when the Church of Christ, Scientist was new and so the architect couldn’t be influenced by the designs of similar churches.

The South Loop’s U.S. Custom House stands among several other enormous current and former government buildings.  It looks like an imposing 1930’s police building, because that’s exactly what it is.  In fact, this is where Eliot Ness, the leader of The Untouchables, had his real-life office.  It’s now the home of the local Homeland Security office.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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