Group hopes to save iconic Catholic church in Evanston from demolition

A meeting this Friday will determine whether St. Mark should become a historic landmark.
Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 6:56 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A group is working tirelessly to save a church set for demolition.

Those with “Save the Mark” hope to have St. Mark Catholic Church in Evanston declared a historic landmark.

“There’s a spiritual connection,” said JR Gentle, vice chairman of the Save the Mark board. “It’s not just the building. People laughed, cried, they were baptized, they were married.”

St. Mark opened in 1916 on Montgomery Road. It was modeled after St Marie Church in Cosmedio, Italy and designed by Henry Schlacks, founder of the Architecture School at Notre Dame. (More.)

At its height in the ‘50′s, more than 1,200 families worshipped there regularly, according to the Cincinnati Preservation Association.

But the church fell victim to suburban flight as hundreds of Evanston homes were razed for the construction of Interstate 71. The parish held its last service in July 2010.

St. Mark sat vacant for more than a decade, but over the last two years, Save the Mark has worked with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to buy it and give it new life.

Gentle says they were on the right track, but the agreement appears to have fallen apart, and now there’s a demolition permit for the church.

Public records show a man named Sean Donovan requested the permit in September.

Gentle says preserving the old church will do more good for the neighborhood than tearing it down.

“Turn it into a local community center where there will be a food bank, there will be classes taught there, nonprofits based there,” he advised.

The Cincinnati Historic Conservation Board will meet on Friday to decide whether St. Mark will become a historic landmark.

If granted that status, Gentle says his group will sit back down at the table with the Archdiocese to try to purchase it outright.

Sign the petition here.

See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Please include the title when you click here to report it.

Copyright 2021 WXIX. All rights reserved.