'Before the bulldozers' update: Reader identifies church seen in 1971 photos of long-demolished West Side neighborhood

February 11, 2011

Earlier this week, I posted some great images of a long-gone Near West Side neighborhood, photographed by Lou Fourcher back in 1971.

Lou's now 67 and with Alzheimer's, he can't remember details and precise locations of the places depicted in the photographs. And with the neighborhood totally wiped away--streets and all--and replaced by a large campus of medical, educational and public service buildings, it isn't like you can revisit the area today and figure out what was what. So I asked for your help.

I was particularly curious about the intersection depicted above, and that big spooky church in the background that turned up in a few of Fourcher's images. Reader John Powers, however, solved the mystery. He identified the church as St. Charles Borromeo, located on the northeast corner of Roosevelt and Hoyne (or 12th and Cypress when the church was built in the 1880s.)  Powers sent a link that contained this image of the church when it was alive and well and celebrating its 25th anniversary:

So the image atop this post is looking north down Hoyne from 13th Street or so. The boarded up storefront on the extreme left looks to be the same one where these two young men are sitting (and the church--that big brick pile--looms just to the right of the photo):

Back to St. Charles Borromeo, there is a postscript. The edifice and rectory were allegedly haunted by Bishop Peter J. Muldoon, who founded the church earlier in his career and died in 1927, according to lore and the well-received book, Muldoon: a True Chicago Ghost Story, published in 2004 and written by Rocco and Daniel Facchini. Rocco was an assistant pastor there. The church was closed in 1968 and was later demolished.

No word on where Muldoon's ghost went.