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Chicago Demolition Fire Louis Sullivan

Sullivan Synagogue Gutted by Fire

by Michael R. Allen

In his lifetime, Louis Sullivan designed many buildings. Of his designs, 238 were built. As of Friday, only 50 still stood — and one of them, Kehilath Anshe Ma’ ariv Synagogue (Later Pilgrim Baptist Church burned on that same day.

The interior and unique roof was totally lost, and the limestone exterior walls are left unstable.

The historic synagogue was one of the most formative designs in the collaboration of Dankmar Adler and Sullivan, demonstrating Adler’s deft structural mind and the maturation of Sullivan’s patterns of ornament.

The Place Where We Live has more information: Adler & Sullivan Historic Church Destroyed by Fire

Hopefully, the walls can be stabilized even if the interior spaces and roof structure are lost forever. The city of Chicago and the world cannot afford to lose the last traces of a Louis Sullivan building. By now, the callous city that tore down so many before may realize just how valuable Sullivan’s work really is.

Or not.

Chicago continues to drain its heritage: CTA platform expansion has claimed both the 1929 Hays-Healy Gymnasium at DePaul University as well as the Co-Operative Temperance Society Building (lately housing the Bottom Lounge) at Wilton and Belmont; Marshall Field’s will become Macy’s in September; the landmark Berghoff restaurant will close February 28; yet another turreted corner building is threatened; and so forth.

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