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Arson damages historic church building on NW Side

RentalsChicago Police Department

Chicago bomb and arson detectives are looking into a suspicious overnight fire that damaged a restroom inside a church attached to a Metra station  on the Northwest Side.

No one was hurt in the fire, which started about 1:50 a.m. at the building in the 6000 block of N. Northwest Highway, according to Chicago Police Department News Affairs Officer Michael Sullivan.

"There was smoke and water damage" to the building, Sullivan said.

Metra spokesman Tom Miller said the fire affected a church attached to the Union Pacific/Northwest Line's Norwood Park depot, 6088 N. Northwest Hwy.

"It was extinguished quickly and there was no damage to our property," Miller said.

The Rev. Shawna Bowman, pastor of Friendship Presbyterian Church, a congregation that rents space in the historic building, said the damage was contained to the men's room. Because the worship space smelled smoky on Sunday, services were canceled. But she said there was no reason to expect services would be canceled again next week.

Bowman said there had been a rash of random crimes in the neighborhood lately and simply believes the church was not immune.

The fire did not affect Metra service and the incident is being investigated by the police Bomb and Arson Unit.

According to a City of Chicago website, the station was built in 1907 and is one of the last remaining depots designed by noted Chicago architects Charles Frost and Albert Granger.

rsobol@tribune.com, mbrachear@tribune.com

Twitter: @RosemarySobol1, @TribSeeker

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