In something of a surprise move, North Riverside Mayor Hubert Hermanek Jr. announced on Dec. 16 that the village has agreed to purchase a church property and adjacent parsonage that have sat vacant for the past couple of years and are on the market for sale.

Hermanek announced following closed session at last week’s village board meeting that the village board had, by a 5-1 margin, consented to move ahead with purchasing the 24,682-square-foot site at 2342-50 8th Ave. for $500,000. Trustee Marybelle Mandel did not support the move, Hermaek said.

The two properties – the church at 2350 8th Ave. and the single-family raised-ranch home directly north at 2342 8th Ave. are listed separately at $750,000 and $225,000, respectively. Hermanek said the village decided to act after a prior contract with another purchaser fell through.

North Riverside trustees will vote to officially approve the purchase agreement on Jan. 6.

“It’s five lots, and in a landlocked community like ours, I think it’s a great acquisition,” said Hermanek in a phone interview last week.

Hermanek said the plan is to demolish the buildings, probably next spring. As for what’s in store for the site, that’s unclear at the moment. But, with North Riverside in the early stages of putting together a strategic plan, the property’s future use could be part of that discussion.

The parcel sits in a strictly single-family residential area, not too far from Komarek School. One option could be to turn the site into a neighborhood park. While the village has two large parks on the east end of town, it has no neighborhood playground options elsewhere, apart from the existing tot lot at 14th Avenue and 24th Street on the far west end.

The village could also seek to develop the property for residential use. Or there could be another use identified during the planning process.

“There are a lot of options we can look at,” Hermanek said.

The church building, which dates from the mid-1950s, most recently housed Christ Presbyterian Church, a congregation created in 2009 with the merger of North Riverside Community Church and First Presbyterian Church of Brookfield. Christ Presbyterian Church shut down at the end of 2017.

A Chicago Tribune article from Oct. 20, 1955 reported that the congregation of North Riverside Community Presbyterian Church, which had formed in 1952, was kicking off a capital campaign to raise $100,000 to help fund the construction of a church.

The congregation, which held services at Komarek School until the church was built, had been organized with 62 members in December 1952 and had grown by 1957 to 217 adult and 250 children, according to the Tribune.

The architect of the modern design, with its sweeping A-frame, was William H. Cooley. A rendering of the now-shuttered church was published as part of the 1955 Tribune article. 

A subsequent article reported that the 1955 capital campaign ended up raising only $55,000, and that additional costs had driven up the price of the church to $120,000, forcing the congregation to postpone the start of construction until March 1957.

This article has been changed to correct the margin of consent by trustees to buy the church property.The head count taken on Dec. 16 did not constitute official board action. Trustees are expected to vote on the purchase agreement on Jan.6.