April 20, 2013:
3300 S Indiana Avenue

Posted April 20, 2013


Another half-forgotten marvel on the South Side—the Pilgrim Baptist Church on the corner of South Indiana Avenue and 33rd street, originally built by Adler & Sullivan in 1890 as the Kehilath Anshe Ma’ariv Synagogue, home to Chicago’s oldest Jewish congregation (Dankmar Adler’s father had been its rabbi from 1861 to 1883). Known as the birthplace of Gospel (thanks to the musical directorship of Thomas Dorsey, who at some point counted Mahalia Jackson among his protégés there), the church also hosted the funeral of world heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson in 1946. In January 2006, the church was destroyed in an 18-minute blaze reportedly started by a team of careless roofers. According to one news report at the time, “It was built like Mount Ararat, the place where Noah was said to have landed when the flood was over.”