Immaculate Conception church was organized
by the St. Vincent de Paul Society in 1882 to serve Polish families in
South Chicago. Members of the society purchased land on December 9,1881,
at 88th and Houston Avenue, for the building of a church. It was founded
by Rev. John Radziejewski, who was the first pastor. During this time,
the parish was temporarily in a store-front church located on 92nd street
between Ontario and Burley Avenue. This original store-front location
was used for several months until it was destroyed by a fire in 1883.
After the store-front was destroyed, members
attended mass at St. Peter and Paul on 91st Street just east of Exchange
Avenue. While the store-front was in use, the lot at 88th and Houston Avenue
was sold. On June 26, 1882, land on 88th and Commercial Avenue was
bought by Father Radziejewski and the parish committee for a new church.
With the land bought on 88th and Commercial Avenue, the second church was
On March 24,1884, the parish school was
opened under the direction of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word
from Houston, Texas. With the new pastor Rev. Pyplacz the basement
of the church was then converted into three classrooms. Soon after
the number of children enrolled in the school was so large that the entire
basement was subdivided into additional classrooms. The parish along with
the school was then destroyed by a fire on May 6, 1894. After the
fire, church services were held at the parochial hall on Exchange Avenue.
Parishioners were determined to create a new church. On November
11, 1894 the corner stone for Immaculate Conception Church was laid by
Archbishop Feehan. For the next four years, mass was
celebrated in the basement of this building. The western half of
the basement was used as the third church and the eastern half was
used as a school.
With the generous support of Father
Wojtalewicz's congregation, he was able to pay off the $15,000 debt, of
the parish, in fifteen months. The fourth church and present church
was located at the northwest corner of 88th and Commercial Ave. On December
25, 1898, the parishioners offered their first mass in their new parish.
That same afternoon, Archbishop Feehan confirmed a class of hundred
and thirty four. On April 23, 1899, Immaculate Conception Church
was dedicated by Archbishop Feehan. In 1901, the newly built school was
opened. Immaculate Conception Parish numbered 1,100 families by 1890.
Polish families continued to settle in the area bound by 83rd St., 86th
St., the tracks of the South Chicago branch of the Illinois Central Railroad,
and Lake Michigan. (Also know as the "Bush") Since there was an increase
in the Polish population in 1892, so Archbishop Feehan divided the territory
of Immaculate Conception Parish to form St. Michael Church at 83rd and
Bond Ave (which is now South Shore Drive). Later the parish was again
divided for the same reason to form St. Mary Magdalene Church in 1910,
at 84th and Marquette Ave. The last division of the parish was St. Bronislava
Church in 1928 which was located at 87th and Colfax Ave.
in the History of Immaculate Conception Parish
Click on the links at the left
South Chicago Churches