The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Birthplace of American Gospel Music Destroyed by Fire

By Rachelle Bowden in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 7, 2006 12:37AM

2006_01_church_burn.jpgA hugeass fire ripped through a landmark church on the South Side today and destroyed it. Pilgrim Baptist Church was designed by the famous architectural firm Adler & Sullivan and was about 114 years old. Originally built as a synagogue, the church was a landmarked building that was totalled today when a fire collapsed the church's roof and then gutted its insides.

Pilgrim Baptist Church is famous, along with its 1930s music director Thomas Dorsey, for having been the birthplace of American gospel music. And the art! On display inside was a mural of William A. Scott, one of the first black students at the Art Institute. A Louis Millet designed stained-glass window that'd been in the church since back when it was a synagogue was also lost in the fire. Not to mention, when the building was constructed it housed the KAM Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in Chicago. All these reasons are why tourists from all over the globe came to visit the church.

What a tragedy to gospel music lose both this important building and Lou Rawls on the same day. We heard on the news that Rawls sang in Pilgrim Baptist Church but are having trouble finding it online. Can anyone verify?

Image via NBC