Church Conversion: Chicago Chapel Turned Into Holy Home



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With its two street-facing gables, stained glass windows and quiet, tree-lined double lot in Chicago’s Little Italy, this church still looks like it has for over a century from the outside, albeit a bit spruced up. Built in 1901, the church closed its doors to congregants in 1920 and sat abandoned for many decades before the University of Chicago began using it to house various campus ministries. Today, it’s a gorgeous light-filled residence for a family of five, renovated for maximum comfort and minimalist beauty by the firm Linc Thelen.

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The seven-bedroom, six-bath home still boasts the original sky-high ceiling height, as well as original details like the arched stained-glass windows within creamy brick walls and exposed beams. To make it feel cozy and comfortable as a family home, the architects brought the ceilings down in the bedrooms and children’s rooms.

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Unsurprisingly, lots of secrets were discovered during demolition, like a host of nooks and crannies accessible via narrow crawl spaces and rickety wooden ladders. While some were opened to fit modern amenities like the washer and dryer, others were left intact as play spaces for the kids. The house also boasts a fun climbing wall, a Murphy bed in the nursery and multiple fireplaces.

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The stained glass stands out more than ever now that it’s set against stark white walls and ceilings, and the original nave is now a spacious and wide-open living room, kitchen and dining area. While most of the surfaces have been modernized, the clock tower was left almost exactly as it was found, with the second-level floor taken out for views all the way to the top.

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