CHICAGO (CBS) — The oldest African-American church on Chicago’s North Side is closing the doors of its historic building after more than a century, marking the end of an era for a building with rich roots.
Hermon Baptist Church, 1754 North Clark Street, has been around since 1887. 13 African-American workers, residing and working on Chicago’s Gold Coast, were the church’s first singers.
After 120 years, and countless baptisms and brides, first communions and funerals, the church has survived.
“Yeah, that’s by God’s grace,” Pastor Keith Edwards said.
And if you ask the longest living member…
“Well, it really hasn’t changed much. We got a sign out there and new doors,” said 91-year-old Helen Cole, who’s been worshiping at Hermon Baptist for 85 years. “I’ve been coming here so long. I could stand some change!”
An aging building, a shrinking congregation and unsuitable parking all went into the decision to relocate.
The red brick building, nestled between high-rises and hotels in Lincoln Park, is now sold. It was bought by Giordano Dance Chicago, which will keep the façade of the building to preserve its history.
“The legacy will continue on. We’ll continue in God’s will and way — and in the 13 that started all of this,” Pastor Edwards said.
The last service is on Sunday. The church is still looking for a permanent spot to move to.