Another Uptown stop that I made during OHC was to the Preston Bradley Center- also known as The Peoples Church. This is a place that I have driven by a million times and always wondered what it was like inside due to the neo-classical facade of the building which features 6 large columns extending 5 stories over Lawrence Av. So when I saw it on the list for OHC, I knew I had to make a stop there.
The Preston Bradley Center was built in 1926 at the height of Uptown’s glory days. It is home to art groups, social services and religious groups.
One of those religious groups is The Peoples Church of Chicago. As it is located in one of the most diverse communities in the US, it is a gathering place for open-minded, liberal Christians, Humanists and all others. Dr. Preston Bradley, who was 24 years old when he took over the congregation in 1912, built the Preston Bradley Center to house the church. The impressive building is composed of six floors with two balconies and a wide stage, where the congregation continues to worship. Bradley’s ministry included several church services each week, radio broadcasts reaching several million listeners, and an active community relief effort serving hundreds on the north side. Bradley was one of the first pastors to preach to a national radio audience (from this building), leading the longest continuously running religious radio broadcast for 50+ years.
Located on the 4th floor is The Uptown Arts Center. As a new project of the Preston Bradley Center, it opens this versatile building to developing the arts in the Uptown community. While I was there, it was hosting a collection of work by Immy Mellin, “The Sharpie King.”
Also sharing the 4th floor is the National Pastime Theater. For twenty years, The National Pastime Theater has insured progress by producing dynamic and masterful live theater. In addition to producing live theater, NPT has fostered over one hundred and fifty emerging and staple Chicago theater companies. In an effort to expand our mission, NPT supports those itinerant theaters that present a similar focus to that of NPT’s.
The Preston Bradley Center building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.