Fire has destroyed a historic church in Chicago, Illinois, that has been called the birthplace of gospel music.

Firefighters were called Friday afternoon to Pilgrim Baptist Church. A neighbor said construction workers were on the church's roof when the fire started, but a fire department spokesman said authorities did not know how the blaze started. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The building was constructed in 1890 as a synagogue. Pilgrim Baptist Church took it over in 1922.

Under the leadership of its choir director, Thomas Dorsey, the church was a center for the development of gospel music.

Among the artists who sang at the church was Mahalia Jackson.

Some information for this report was provided by  AP and Reuters.