About This Item
one of a kind original and intact museum-quality and historically important single ornamental hand carved exterior solid keystone salvaged from a pre-fire chicago german school (later known as the gethsemane missionary baptist church) constructed in 1869. the oversized side entrance keystone is one of the very few original decorative elements dating back to the time of the building’s construction. the augustus bauer-designed building was outfitted with two matching keystones (the other was removed when the facade was replaced in 1944) when the building was completed in 1869. the keystone contains surface wear and discoloration consistent with prolonged exposure to the elements. the important architectural artifact was carefully removed during demolition in march of 2015. the two and a half story pre-fire chicago brick building located at 1352 s. union street is one of the few buildings left standing after the wrecking ball, driven by urban renewal, destroyed nearly all of the maxwell street neighborhood in chicago. constructed as a private, german-speaking high school in 1869 (also served the neighboring zion evenagelical church – since demolished), it later became home to a romanian synagogue, an african-american church, and then briefly an arts center. designed by german architect augustus bauer (st. patrick’s church, tree studios), the german school (the city’s first) is the only surviving example of bauer’s work as a solo architect. the non-religious school was built of brick and stone with an interior containing six great recitation rooms. a small time capsule was placed inside a small vault within the original building cornerstone. by the turn of the century a romanian jewish congregation moved in, and converted the building into a synagogue in 1905. when the jewish congregation later moved to west to lawndale, the building became gethsemane missionary baptist church (established in 1935) with an african american congregation lead by reverend a. sharp. several alterations to the interior and exterior were made during this time, which included an apartment constructed in the rear of the building (1944) for reverend sharp to occupy, along with a newly-built facade in completed in 1945. the building remained in use as the gethsemane missionary baptist until 2002 as the last remaining protestant church in the maxwell street district. in addition, the church is the only extant building in the area that survived the great chicago fire of 1871 (and one of only 112 documented, pre-fire buildings still standing in chicago today). the church building has since been demolished.