Archive ID: 2018-074-031

Immaculate Conception Church

Date Created: 1911-05-01

Created By: S.H. Knox & Co.

Donor: Raymond Mulac

Media Type: Postcard

Language: English


In 1882, Immaculate Conception was built for the Polish families in South Chicago. It is located at 88th and Commercial Avenue. On December 19, 1881, land was bought on the southwest corner of 88th and Houston Avenue. Until a church was built, mass was held in a rented store on 92nd Street between Ontario (now Brandon) and Burley Ave. This went on until the building caught fire. The parishioners temporarily attended mass at the German Catholic parish of SS. Peter and Paul on 91st and Exchange Avenue. The parish sold the land previously bought on Houston Avenue, and took the money to buy ten lots from the Calumet and Chicago Canal and Dock Company for about $7,345. This new land was located on 88th and Commercial Avenue. Two years later, on March 24, 1884, a school was opened under the administration of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate from Houston Texas. In 1887, a bell tower was placed alongside the original wooden church. A few years later, in 1889, a brick building was built on Exchange Avenue as a parish hall. By 1890, Immaculate Conception had increased to around 1,100 families and was still growing. Polish families were mainly settling around the Bush area because of the church and the demand for work in the steel mills nearby. The overpopulation resulted in a new parish, St. Michael the Archangel, being formed, in 1892, on 83rd and Bond Avenue. Tragedy struck Immaculate Conception on May 6, 1894, when the church building was destroyed by a fire. On November 11, 1894 the cornerstone of a new Immaculate Conception was laid and, for four years, until the church was completed, mass was held in the basement of the school. Construction of the new building began in 1898, and was completed on April 23, 1899 from plans drawn by architect, Martin A. Carr. The population of the school grew from 500 to 750 children between 1896 and 1899. This was just too many students for the classrooms in the basement. A new school was built. Students began enrolling in the new school, and by 1907, there were already 1,120 children enrolled. Since the Polish population of South Chicago was still growing, St. Mary Magdalene was established as another division of Immaculate in 1910. The church was located on 84th and Marquette Avenue. The last division of the church occurred in 1928, when St. Bronislava was built on 87th and Colfax. In recent years the steel mills have closed, the population of South Chicago has declined and St. Mary Magdalene and St. Bronislava parishes have been closed. St. Michael and Immaculate Conception have been merged into a new parish.

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