WBEZ | South Loop http://www.wbez.org/tags/south-loop Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Lost Chicago landmark: the old Old St. Mary's http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-04/lost-landmark-old-old-st-marys-106901 <p><p>The Archdiocese has delayed demolition of St. James Church. That calls to mind a historic church that wasn&#39;t saved: the old Old St. Mary&rsquo;s.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/05-01--Old St. Mary's (1955).jpg" style="width: 260px; height: 390px; float: right;" title="The old Old St. Mary's, 1955 (author's collection)" /></div><p>St. Mary of the Assumption was the city&rsquo;s first Catholic church, built in 1833 on Lake Street west of State Street. Three years later the building was moved to Michigan Avenue and Madison Street. In 1843, when Chicago was established as a diocese, a new St. Mary&rsquo;s Cathedral was constructed at the southwest corner of Madison Street and Wabash Avenue.</p><p>The Great Fire of 1871 destroyed St. Mary&rsquo;s Cathedral. Afterward the Catholic bishop decided to rebuild his cathedral in Holy Name parish. He also purchased the five-year-old Plymouth Congregational Church at 9th and Wabash, rededicating it as St. Mary&rsquo;s Catholic Church. The parish was placed under the direction of the Paulist Fathers order of priests.</p><p>The decades passed, and the South Loop went into a long decline. Anyone with money moved out. By the 1930s the area was mostly commercial&mdash;and what wasn&rsquo;t commercial was slum. Aging gracefully while&nbsp;the neighborhood&nbsp;deteriorated, the church remained one rock of stability. People began calling it Old St. Mary&rsquo;s.</p><p>As early as 1904 the Paulists organized a male choir. However, the Paulist Choristers really came into their own after Father Eugene O&rsquo;Malley took over in 1928. At its peak the choir had 65 singers and was internationally famous. When Bing Crosby played a &ldquo;singing priest&rdquo; in the movie <em>Going My Way</em>, his character was named&mdash;not coincidentally&mdash;Father O&rsquo;Malley.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/O%27Malley%2C%20Fr.%20Eugene.jpg" style="width: 250px; height: 375px; float: left;" title="Father Eugene O'Malley (author's collection)" /></div><p>The church was distinctive in other ways.</p><p>&quot;Old St. Mary&rsquo;s runs along without the Holy Name society, the Altar &amp; Rosary society, and the young people&rsquo;s sodalities that help the pastor in most parishes,&quot; a 1955 article reported. &quot;It has no parishioners except a few permanent residents&nbsp;of the big Michigan Avenue hotels. Yet Old St. Mary&rsquo;s is filled every Sunday.&quot;</p><p>The church was filled even&nbsp;at 3 a.m, for its night-owl Mass. In those days Catholics were expected to attend weekly Mass on Sunday itself, and not on &quot;anticipated&quot; Saturday evening. I made it to a number of those services in my college days, and always ran into someone I knew.</p><p>The old Old St. Mary&rsquo;s was torn down in 1971. The official explanation was that the building had become too expensive to repair. The gossip was that Standard Oil wanted the land for its new headquarters, and Cardinal Cody sold the property for a nice price.</p><p>Standard Oil eventually built on another site. From 1971 until 2002 the parish operated out of a church at Wabash and Van Buren. The newest Old St. Mary&rsquo;s is located at 1500 South Michigan Ave.</p></p> Thu, 02 May 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-04/lost-landmark-old-old-st-marys-106901 The missing monument http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-08/missing-monument-101580 <p><p>In 1893 George Pullman lived in a mansion among his fellow magnates at 1729 South Prairie Avenue. This was near the site of what was then called the Fort Dearborn Massacre. Pullman decided to erect a monument to the event on his property.</p><p>The finished bronze sculpture was the work of Carl Rohl-Smith. Set upon a stage-like base, it measured 8 feet by 9 feet and was 5 feet deep. A famous incident in the battle is portrayed &mdash; the Potawatomi chief Black Partridge is raising a hand to rescue Margaret Helm from another, tomahawk-wielding Potawatomi.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/08-16--monument%20in%201911.jpg" title="The monument at its original site, 1911 (Library of Congress/Chicago Daily News)" /></div><p>&ldquo;The Fort Dearborn Massacre&rdquo; remained in place until 1931. By then the neighborhood had become a run-down industrial district. The monument itself was neglected and vandalized.</p><p>Pullman&rsquo;s will had left the public art to the Chicago Historical Society, in trust for the City of Chicago. The Society now took over. The monument was refurbished and moved to the lobby of its headquarters. There it stayed for decades.</p><p>&ldquo;Massacre&rdquo; is a loaded word. In 1972 the subtitle &ldquo;The Potawatomi Rescue&rdquo; was added to the monument. Still, some critics objected to the work itself, saying it presented a biased viewpoint.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/08-16--closeup02.jpg" title="Detail of the rescue (Library of Congress/Chicago Daily News)" /></div></div><p>During the 1980s Prairie Avenue was restored as a historic district. The monument was then returned to its old neighborhood, being displayed on the grounds of the Clarke mansion.</p><p>Today Rohl-Smith&#39;s sculpture is nowhere to be seen. It was removed from the Clarke grounds around 1997, and is stored in a warehouse, supposedly awaiting another restoration. A proposal to locate the monument in The Battle of Fort Dearborn Park has been opposed by native groups. &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 16 Aug 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-08/missing-monument-101580 200 years ago: The Fort Dearborn Massacre? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-08/200-years-ago-fort-dearborn-massacre-101503 <p><p>On August 15, 1812 &mdash; exactly 200 years ago today &mdash; the event traditionally called the Fort Dearborn Massacre took place. &nbsp;</p><p>Before there was Chicago, there was Fort Dearborn. In 1803 the U.S. Army built a stockade at the mouth of the Chicago River, near what is now Michigan and Wacker. Over the next several years, a small settlement grew up around it.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/08-15--from%20%27The%20Story%20of%20Old%20Fort%20Dearborn%27.jpg" title="Fort Dearborn, 1812 (Seymour, 'The Story of Old Fort Dearborn')" /></div><p>By 1812 the U.S. and Britain were drifting toward war. The Potawatomi and some of the other local tribes saw war as a chance to get rid of the Americans who&rsquo;d moved into the area &mdash; an idea the British encouraged. Tensions rose. A few settlers were killed.</p><p>The War of 1812 began in June. In August Captain Nathan Heald of Fort Dearborn received orders to evacuate. Shortly afterward, the scout William Wells arrived with 30 Miami warriors to escort the garrison.</p><p>Heald met with Potawatomi chiefs on August 13. He told them that the fort was being abandoned, and that he would leave behind a store of supplies. In return, the Potawatomi would let his party leave in peace. There seemed to be an agreement.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/08-15--William Wells.jpg" title="William Wells (Wikipedia Commons)" /></div></div><p>At 9 a.m. on August 15 the garrison left the fort and headed south. The party included 93 people &mdash; 54 regulars, 12 militia, nine women and 18 children &mdash; plus Wells and the 30 Miami.</p><p>One of the Potawatomi had warned Heald that the young men of the tribe were looking to fight. About a mile and a half out, Wells spotted a large group of Potawatomi massed behind some sand dunes, lurking in ambush. Captain Heald ordered his men to charge them. The battle was on.</p><p>The Potawatomi overwhelmed the evacuees in 15 minutes. Wells was killed, as were 26 regulars, all 12 militia, two women and 12 children. Captain Heald was forced to surrender and the survivors were taken prisoner. Most were later ransomed, though some died in captivity.</p><p>The Potawatomi then burned the fort. About 500 of them had taken part in the fight, with 15 killed. Accounts vary as to what the Miami escort did during the battle.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Daily%20News%2C%201903.jpg" title="Painting of the battle, 1903 (Library of Congress/Chicago Daily News)" /></div><p><em>Accounts vary</em> . . .</p><p>That&rsquo;s the thing about history. More information is always turning up, or new insights are being offered. Often it depends on whose account you read. There are plenty.</p><p>For instance &mdash; why did the Potawatomi prepare an ambush after giving the garrison a safe conduct?</p><p>The old version of the story claims they were just nasty people looking for a chance to spring on their enemies. But others say that Heald had double-crossed the Potawatomi &mdash; he&rsquo;d left the promised supplies, but had destroyed the ammunition and whiskey.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/08-15.JPG" title="The Battle of Fort Dearborn Park (WBEZ/John R. Schmidt)" /></div><p>Even the site of the incident is debated. Tradition says it was near 18<sup>th</sup> and Calumet, where the city has dedicated The Battle of Fort Dearborn Park. Recent historians have concluded it probably happened further north, near Roosevelt and Michigan.</p><p>I could go on, but you get the idea. Read the various accounts and draw your own conclusions.</p><p>What was once a simple, straight-forward narrative in primary colors has become more complicated. In that way, Fort Dearborn has become Chicago&rsquo;s Alamo. &nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 15 Aug 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-08/200-years-ago-fort-dearborn-massacre-101503 Mickey Finn: Chicago's cocktail http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-12-16/mickey-finn-chicagos-cocktail-94734 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-December/2011-12-16/12-16--Bar02 (CDN-LC).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>If you are a sophisticated drinker, you know about the Manhattan. Obviously, that cocktail was invented in New York City. Here in Chicago we can lay claim to devising our own famous mixed drink.</p><p>In 1903 on this December 16th, the city was learning about the Lone Star Saloon and Palm Garden. This was one of the dives of Whiskey Row, on State Street near 11th. A little gnome ex-pickpocket named Mickey Finn owned the place. Today one of Finn's barmaids--Gold Tooth Mary Thornton--was testifying before a special commission.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-09/12-16--Bar02%20%28CDN-LC%29.jpg" style="width: 490px; height: 326px;" title="Library of Congress/Chicago Daily News"></p><p>Gold Tooth Mary said there was a sign at the Lone Star inviting customers to "Try a Mickey Finn Special." The sign did not mention the ingredients, and for good reason. The Special was a mixture of raw alcohol, snuff-soaked water, and a white liquid supplied by a voodoo doctor.</p><p>Anybody who drank this cocktail was knocked out cold. The victim was then dragged into a side room, where he was stored until Mickey got around to robbing him. After that he was dumped in the alley.</p><p>Mary and her colleagues got a percentage of Mickey's take. That was just as well, since their customers weren't in any condition to give the ladies a tip.</p><p>Mickey had all the angles covered. Some patrons would drink only beer, so he had another concoction called the "Number Two" that he poured into the beer. According to Mary, her boss had no fear of the police. Mickey boasted that he was in tight with Alderman Kenna, and that he always saved the best cigars for the local cops.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="326" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-15/12-16--Liquor.jpg" title="Library of Congress/Chicago Daily News" width="490"></p><p>This time, friendship and smokes did him no good. Because of all the bad publicity, city officials revoked Mickey's liquor license.</p><p>Mickey thought he'd been given a bum deal. Gold Tooth Mary's story didn't make any sense. "I'd lose money feeding dope to the guys that blow in here," he claimed. "I wouldn't get enough money out of their clothes in a year to pay for the dope."</p><p>With the Lone Star closed, Mickey left Chicago. He later returned and operated another saloon. By that time his name was so notorious that he didn't dare try any funny business.</p><p>But Mickey had the last laugh. He sold his secret formula to a half-dozen other saloonkeepers, and from there it spread throughout America. Today any kind of knockout drink is still called a Mickey Finn.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 16 Dec 2011 13:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-12-16/mickey-finn-chicagos-cocktail-94734 Chicago's 'Little House' http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-09-26/chicagos-little-house-91697 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-September/2011-09-26/Clarke House_Schmidt.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>The Little House</em>, by Virginia Lee Burton, is a classic children's book. A sturdy frame cottage is built far out in the country. But as the years pass, the city grows up around it, making the house sad. Finally, the house is put on rollers, moved further out into the country, and is once again happy.</p><p>Chicago has its own version of the Little House. Except that the Chicago house was moved twice--and the second time, it was moved back downtown. The city is now celebrating its 175th birthday.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-08/09-19--Clarke House.jpg" title="" width="490" height="329"></p><p>Henry B. Clarke was one of Chicago's early settlers. He operated a hardware business and was a director of the city's first bank. In 1836 he built a house on the outskirts of town, near what is now Michigan Avenue and 16th Street.</p><p>Clarke's home was no little cottage, but an imposing mini-mansion with pillared portico and high cupola. When Henry died, his wife Caroline continued to live in the house. That's when it became known as "The Widow Clarke House."</p><p>At the time of the Great Fire in 1871, the house was owned by a tailor named John Chrimes. Though the fire didn't come anywhere near the property, Chrimes wasn't taking any chances. He had the house moved four miles south onto the open prairie.</p><p>Settlement eventually grew up around the Clarke House. Hyde Park Township was organized, and the City of Chicago later annexed the township. The house got an official Chicago address, 4526 S. Wabash Avenue.</p><p>Because of its remote location, there was no rush to tear down the Clarke House in the name of progress. It sat on Wabash and got older. By the 1940s guidebooks were calling it the oldest building in Chicago. It was now the rectory of St. Paul Church of God in Christ.</p><p>During the 1970s Chicago developed plans to restore what was left of historic Prairie Avenue. The Clarke House seemed to be an appropriate addition. The city bought the house in 1977 and prepared to move it again.</p><p>There was one obstacle that hadn't existed the last time the house went traveling--105 years before, there was no 'L'. Because the building wouldn't fit under the tracks, it had to go over them.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-08/09-19--Clarke House 1980.jpg" style="width: 490px; height: 323px;" title="Clarke House awaiting restoration (1978)"></p><p>In the dead of one December night, power was shut off on the South Side 'L'. The ancient cottage was carefully lifted on hydraulic jacks and pulled across the tracks. They began to lower it down the other side--and it got stuck! The machinery had frozen. The house hung in the air next to the 'L' for two weeks, until the weather got warmer.</p><p>The new address was 1855 S. Indiana Avenue. After three years of restoration, the Clarke House Museum was opened to the public in 1980. The interior furnishings reflect the 1850s.</p><p>Today we know that Mark Noble's home in Norwood Park is a few years older than the Clarke home. But a visit to Chicago's "Little House" is always fun. So enjoy the party!</p></p> Mon, 26 Sep 2011 12:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-09-26/chicagos-little-house-91697