We walked around the corner onto S. Wabash, clutching a map from Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Open House Chicago, and OH HECK YESSSSSSSSS, there was this delightful architectural surprise: a Streamline Moderne church! With it’s twin towers of terra cotta and glass block, the First Church of Deliverance nods to traditional church structure, but don’t be deceived–there’s nothing traditional about this unique and vibrant house of worship.
First Church of Deliverance is distinguished not only by it’s design, but by it’s African American heritage. Built in 1939, the church was designed by Illinois’ first licensed African American Architect, Walter T. Bailey. Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, the home of First Church of Deliverance, has a strong legacy of African American music, journalism and poetry. In his engaging tour, Reverend Bells told us about the international tours of it’s gospel choir (apparently they’re quite popular in Sweden) and about the churches’ historic radio broadcasts.
Streamline Moderne is a late breakoff of art deco: more aerodynamic and less ornamental than traditional art deco.
A church reverend who worked as an electrician, added the color element to the cross on the ceiling.
At the stoke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, the cross glitters like a disco ball.
Hipper than any pulpit I’ve ever seen…sensational lime green, white leather and chrome detailing.
White leather doors.
1940’s era mural.
Drum set and two pianos. No wonder the seating area was full of boxes of tissues—this church is filled with the spirit!
85th anniversary concert of church’s gospel choir.
How we got to First Church of Deliverance: Chicago Transit Authority.
Where we slept: at home. Price: mortgage, assessments and utilities. Recommended: highly.