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Repairs Underway At Historic Church After Blizzard

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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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CHICAGO (CBS) – The Bible has Jesus telling Peter, “On this rock, I will build my church,” but on the Near West Side Tuesday, crews will be trying to take the rocks out of a church.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports, the First Baptist Congregational Church at 1613 W. Washington Blvd. is 140 years old. The church suffered more than $1 million worth of damage during the blizzard on Feb. 1 and 2, when two boulders fell from the spire and crashed through the roof.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Bernie Tafoya reports


The boulders fell to the balcony, vestibule and down to the front entrance, causing severe structural damage. One of the six chambers of the $1.2 million Kimball pipe organ at the church was also damaged, according to a news release.

Beginning Tuesday, crews will use cranes to try to remove the 4- to 5-foot boulders from the balcony at the church. Work could take until Thursday to finish.

Construction of First Baptist Congregational was completed in 1871, the year of the Great Chicago Fire. The church served as a temporary City Hall in the days after the fire.

Some of the country’s most renowned leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., have spoken from the pulpit.

Sunday services have been moved until further notice to the Hope Institute Learning Academy, located across the street from the church at 1628 W. Washington Blvd.

A fund is in place for anyone who wants to donate to the rebuilding efforts. It is called the Storm Damage Account and PNC Bank at 2154 W. Madison St., Chicago, IL, 60612.

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