BUYER WANTED: Former St. George Church, School and Rectory in South Chicago For Sale (Chicago 7 2021)

Former St. George Church and School Listing, 1903, William Brinkman, 1903, 9546 S. Ewing Avenue. Image credit: Foundry Commercial

“St. George Church was established in 1903 to serve Slovenian immigrants who settled near the steel mills in South Chicago. This national parish was founded within the territorial parish of St. Patrick at 95th Street and Commercial Avenue.

“The origins of the St. George national parish were found in Slovenian and Slovak fraternal and benevolent organizations of the 1890s. The pastor of a Slovenian parish in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood celebrated Mass for the small South Chicago Slovenian congregation for a time in a German Catholic church at 91st and Exchange, and he encouraged the South Chicago congregation to form a national parish. The group bought land on 95th Street between Avenues M and N, and had secured the services of a Slovenian priest who began to work with the St. George parish in May 1903.

“Initial plans to build a small wooden church were revised when the parishioners acquired a new site at the northwest corner of 96th and Ewing Avenue. With the help of Croatian Catholics who were among the large numbers of Southern Slavs settling in the neighborhood, the large brick church of St. George was constructed in Gothic style with a prominent bell tower. Ground was broken at the end of June 1903, the cornerstone was laid at the start of August, and the first Mass was celebrated in the new church on December 6, 1903.

“In January 1904, the church bells were blessed. They had been a ‘gift of the single men’ of the parish. In June 1904, Auxiliary Bishop Peter J. Muldoon dedicated the church. In 1906, Andrew Carnegie made a ‘sizeable donation toward the purchase of the church organ.’

“By 1911, the parish debt was reduced by $8,000. The following year, the membership of the church decreased when the Croatians decided to form their own national parish west of the Calumet River. After several changes of the pastorate, beginning in 1922, St. George parish was staffed by the Slovenian Franciscan Fathers from Lemont, Illinois. In the 1920s, the parish hall was enlarged, the Slovene artist John Gosar was commissioned to redecorate the church interior, and later, stained glass windows were installed in the church. From the end of the 1930s, worshipers other than Slovenians were encouraged to participate in parish life at St. George.

“Parish debt was liquidated in 1943 and shortly thereafter, a new fundraising campaign began for construction of a parish school and additional parish structures. Over the next 20 years, a community center, a school, and a new rectory were built.

“Decades before the 75th anniversary celebration of St. George parish in 1978, the parish was no longer exclusively Slovenian. By the 1970s, Masses were no longer celebrated in Slovenian. The parish had become ethnically diverse, serving a congregation that included a large number of Italians, among others.

“From its beginnings as a national parish for immigrant laborers of South Slavic populations, St. George Church grew to welcome worshippers of a variety of backgrounds. The gradual enhancement of its interior by parishioners of modest means manifests the depth of community devotion to this structure over many decades. Despite the history of caring stewardship and diversity of the community served, St. George Church was closed by the Chicago Archdiocese in 2020. It was one of four South Chicago parishes that were combined with only two churches, Annunciata and St. Kevin, remaining open. (Preservation Chicago 2021 Chicago 7 Most Endangered Book, Roman Catholic Church Chaper, pg. 77-78)

Former St. George Church Listing on Foundry

Former St. George Church Brochure

Preservation Chicago Roman Catholic Churches Chicago 7 Most Endangered 2021 Article


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