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Roof Collapses On Historic Church

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First Baptist Congregational Church roof collapse. (Photo by Wanda Washington)

First Baptist Congregational Church roof collapse. (Photo by Wanda Washington)

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UPDATED 02/04/11 10:12 a.m.

CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) — A historic church on the Near West Side sustained heavy damage when the roof collapsed, apparently from the weight of snow on Wednesday night.

Officials of the First Baptist Congregational Church at 1613 W. Washington Blvd. arrived Thursday to find the south end of the roof had collapsed, according to a release from the church.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Bernie Tafoya reports

Church officials believe between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, a combination of lightning and wind caused loose bricks on the church to crash onto part of the roof, creating at least 4,000 square feet of damage.

Extensive damage was caused to the interior of the structure in addition to the exterior damage, the release said.

“Trying to restore it to its original status is going to be quite an expensive feat,” said the senior pastor of the church, the Rev. George W. Daniels.

Daniels believes the renovation costs will be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The present church structure was built between 1869 and 1871, the year of the Great Chicago Fire.

The church was designated a Chicago Landmark in 1982 and a National Landmark in 2006, the release said. It was one of the few structures to survive the Great Fire, temporarily housing government workers during reconstruction of their offices in 1871.

“They used this church for base operations,” Daniels said.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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