Permits pending for demolition of former Saint Cornelius rectory, convent and for conversion of school building into CPS pre-k center
by BRIAN NADIG
Demolition of the former Saint Cornelius Parish convent and rectory and the conversion of the former parish school into an early education center could soon start as construction permits are pending for the project.
On Monday, Jan. 17, crews dropped off large dumpsters behind the former parochial school, 5252 N. Long Ave. Plans call for the convent, 5228 N. long Ave., and the rectory, 5205 N. Lieb Ave., to be replaced by parking lots and a playground.
The Chicago Public Schools acquired the former Saint Cornelius school, rectory and convent for a reported $3.3 million in August. The church, which closed in 2020, was not part of the purchase agreement and is for sale.
The city is seeking that there be a handicapped accessible sidewalk route, with the proper curb cuts for wheelchairs, from the pre-kindergarten center to the nearest CTA bus stop.
Plans for the pre-school, which will serve Jefferson Park area families, were announced in early 2017, but at that time CPS was intending to rent the property. The school system announced last year that the pre-kindergarten facility could open as early as the fall of 2022.
The Saint Cornelius School closed in 2016, and the church hosted its last Mass in 2020. Saint Cornelius merged in 2020 with Saint Thecla and Saint Tarcissus to form the new Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity Parish, which operates on the former Saint Tarcissus campus, 6020 W. Ardmore Ave.
In the 1960s, enrollment at Saint Cornelius peaked at about 850 students. Enrollment was at about 135 when it closed.
Proceeds for the sale of the school went to Saint Elizabeth, according to the Archdiocese of Chicago. The Saint Elizabeth Parish has been looking into acquiring the former Produce Center site, 5820 N. Milwaukee Ave., which adjoins the parish grounds.
Meanwhile, CPS is receiving income from a lease which T-Mobile has for a cell phone antennae on the former Saint Cornelius site, according to CPS documents made available prior to the sale.
Also in the area, the former Saint Thecla School building, 6323 N. Newcastle Ave., was sold to the Philadelphia Romanian Church of God, which has expressed interest in also acquiring the former Saint Thecla Church, 6725 W. Devon Ave.
In addition, the former Our Lady of Victory church and school at Sunnyside and Laramie avenues reportedly are for sale.
(photo by Rob Mandik)