Chicago Landmarks

Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church (originally, Isaiah Temple)

Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church, 2011     Address:
Year Built: 1898 - 1899
Architect: Dankmar Adler
Date Designated a Chicago Landmark: July 28, 2011

Interior Front elevation

Built in 1899 as Isaiah Temple, one of Chicago's early Reform Judaism synagogues, this Classical Revivial-style building is the last building designed by famed architect and engineer Dankmar Adler. It is long-admired for its distinctive form and fine acoustics and exhibits many characteristics associated with the work of Adler - who is best known for such works as the Auditorium Building and the Garrick Theater, both designed in partnership with Louis Sullivan. The building's prominent entrance portico, with Ionic columns, entablature, and balustrade, leads to a dramatic 1,200-seat auditorium with a vaulted and coffered ceiling and a "horseshoe" gallery.

The building was purchased in 1921 by the congregation of the Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church. A decade later, the first modern gospel choir was formed at Ebenezer. Under the direction of musical pioneers Professor Theodore R. Frye, Roberta Martin, and Thomas Andrew Dorsey, himself known as the "Father of Gospel Music," the Church's groundbreaking gospel choir shaped American music history. The enthusiastic reception of gospel music at Ebenezer played a pivotal role establishing the careers of such legendary singers as Mahalia Jackson, Sallie Martin, Ruth Jones and Dinah Washington.