It took just an hour and a half for a wrecking crew to level the First Presbyterian Church at 3545 McCormick Ave. in Brookfield on March 6, the first step in the eventual redevelopment of the property.
Michael and Loretta Glazik, who live just down the block from the church, bought the corner property in October 2011 for $135,000. In an interview with the Landmark in January, Glazik said he was planning to demolish the church, which sits on two separate zoned lots.
It’s unclear whether the Glaziks will move soon to build on the property. Michael Glazik didn’t return calls to his home last week.
Watching the demolition of the church on the morning of March 6 was one of the congregation’s founding members, Joe Stejskal.
“I knew every single pastor – 18 at that church, and now Richard Smith,” said Stejskal, referring to Pastor Richard Smith, who leads the congregation at Christ Presbyterian Church in North Riverside. The Brookfield congregation merged with the North Riverside church when the property went on the block in July 2009.
The Brookfield church suffered some significant flood damage from a historic rain event in 2008, and the congregation of about a dozen active members decided the time had come to move on. Fittingly, the North Riverside church was designed by the same architect in the same year, said Stejskal.
First Presbyterian Church of Brookfield had its start in the Hollywood section of Brookfield in 1942, when Riverside Presbyterian Church started a satellite congregation in the Hollywood Community House.
In September 1956, construction started on the church at McCormick and Parkview avenues, with the cornerstone laid the Sunday after Thanksgiving that year. The church was dedicated on Oct. 27, 1957.
A large backhoe stated tearing down the walls of the church at 7:30 a.m. on March 6, and the job was done by 9 a.m., said Stejskal, who snapped some photos. The green, yellow and brown stained-glass windows were saved. By Wednesday afternoon all that was left was the cornerstone itself, placed up against the construction fencing facing McCormick Avenue.
Asked if he was saddened to see the church come down, the 80-year-old Stejskal was philosophical. It had been part of his entire adult life, but its loss didn’t bother him too much, he said. Referring to the famous preacher Billy Graham, Stejskal said, “Each day is a gift from God. You’re thankful for the many gifts up to the present and grace for the future. And life goes on.”