Fire destroys gospel music landmark

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CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- A massive fire Friday destroyed a landmark South Side church where Mahalia Jackson and other gospel royalty often sang during the 20th century and the man considered the father of gospel music led the choir.

The fire gutted Pilgrim Baptist Church, collapsing its roof and steeple. No major injuries were reported, and the cause of the fire was not immediately known, though repair work had been under way on the roof, fire officials said.

"It is a great loss," said the Rev. Hycel B. Taylor, the church's former pastor. "It was the center of spiritual life for the community for so long."

The church, built in 1890 as a synagogue and converted to a Christian church in the 1920s, was designed by the famous architectural firm headed by Louis Sullivan and his partner.

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