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Historic Church To Reopen After Being Damaged In Blizzard

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The congregation from one of Chicago's oldest churches will be back in its sanctuary this weekend, seven months after infamous the Blizzard of 2011 caused more than $3 million in damage to the church.

"They're just so pleased to know that we can come home," said the Rev. George Daniels, pastor of the First Baptist Congregational Church, at 1613 W. Washington Blvd.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Bernie Tafoya reports


As WBBM Newsradio's Bernie Tafoya reports, during the blizzard on Feb. 1 and 2, high winds toppled one of the stone towers at the 140-year-old church.

The heavy stone crashed down through the roof, balcony and vestibule, and landed on the first floor.

"It just shows us that life has some things that you don't order," Rev. Daniels said. "But whether it's good or bad, you can deal with it."

Besides the structural work, there was so much dust from the accident that all the pews had to reupholstered.

Also, the massive $1.2 million Kimball pipe organ at the church had to be dismantled, including all 5,500 pipes. They are now being cleaned, and are expected to be back in place and working by the winter.

Construction of First Baptist Congregational was completed in 1871, the year of the Great Chicago Fire. The church served as a temporary City Hall in the days after the fire.

Some of the country's most renowned leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., have spoken from the pulpit.

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