Southeast Chicago Historical Society
April, 2007 Volume XXI No. 2
A Few Words From the “Lame Duck” President:
We held our Annual Meeting on Saturday March 31 at Calumet Park. New officers were elected and are:
President Barney Janiecki
Vice President Jim Ostarello
Treasurer Carolyn Mulac
Kevin Murphy & Joann Podkul
Recording Secretary Gloria Novak
A dues restructuring was voted on and approved at the meeting. Effective January 1, 2008 our annual membership dues will be $10 per year and life membership will be $100 per year. Also until the end of the year you can obtain a five year renewal for only $20. Thanks to the many individuals who have renewed their current memberships. Welcome to new life members John Pistro and Craig Ostrowski. Craig is a regular visitor to our museum who shares many interesting items he comes across as he is doing his own family research. Please be sure your dues are up to date. One of the primary benefits of membership is our quarterly newsletter and as postage and duplicating costs increase it becomes necessary to drop from membership those whose dues are in arrears. If you received a separate form in this newsletter your dues are due.
Special thanks to Daniel DeLaurentis and Al and Toni Lerch who made generous donations to the museum in memory of our former president and dedicated volunteer Alex Savastano. It is our intent to purchase a DVD / VCR recorder with the funds. We have put together a program with excerpts from the numerous interviews Alex gave for many different projects. They span the years from 1982 to 2002. The program is entitled “Pearls of Wisdom from Alex” and is available for loan from the museum.
Motion was made and approved to join the Calumet Stewardship Initiative (CSI), an umbrella organization for community groups.
We continue to work with and assist numerous groups and organizations. We displayed materials related to Wolf Lake history at the 6th Annual Winterfest sponsored by AWLI (Association for the Wolf Lake Initiative). We are working with Friends of the Parks on the “Last Four Miles” initiative, a proposal to complete public access to Chicago’s entire lakefront. Currently 26 miles of Chicago’s 30 mile long lakefront are accessible. The south side portions are from 71st to 75 th Streets, the US Steel site, the Confined Disposal Facility (CDF), and the unused portion of the Iroquois Landing Facility. A display summarizing the plan is available for viewing at Calumet Park and at the East Side Vodak Library. Photographs from our collections were part of a display about this project at the Chicago Architecture Foundation. We also gave a tour of the museum and Calumet Park to a group from CAF.
We are collaborating with the Calumet Heritage Partnership and the Pullman State Historic Site on a couple of initiatives. One is a digital project (see article elsewhere in this newsletter) and the other is the Calumet Industrial Heritage Project which is dealing with the items rescued from the Acme coke plant and furnace plant before their demolition. See www.calumetheritage.org/index for more information.
Be sure to see the exhibit on East Side history in the entry hallway of the new Vodak East Side Library. It includes panoramic views of the East Side in the 1910s, several historical photographs, and a number of reproductions of paintings by local artist and former society president Joe Mulac.
Several photos from our collection are part of an exhibit in the recently remodeled and renamed Chicago History Museum (formerly the Chicago Historical Society). The exhibit is named “Colonia to Community: The Southeast Side” and is the first to open in the museum’s Community Gallery. The exhibit focuses on the early Southeast Side Mexican community and runs through May 20. Don’t miss it! The CHM has free admission on Mondays.
This year is the 70th anniversary of the Memorial Day Massacre, one of the most important events in the labor history of the United States. A very special commemoration will be held on May 27. Try to attend this special event.
Be on the lookout for historical photos from our collections. The Knowledge Hook-Up, Royal Bank (www.royalsavingsbank.com/history) and the recently opened Green Olive restaurant have used our historical photographs in displays.
In case any are wondering, it was my request to be relieved of the duties of president of this organization to allow me more time to work on specific projects for the museum and our society. I will continue to edit the newsletter (unless someone wants to volunteer to take over this task) and remain active at the museum. I appreciate all the help I received while serving as your president and appreciate the new slate of officers, especially new president Barney Janiecki, taking on the administrative responsibilities for the organization.
If any questions or comments stop by the museum or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. And check out our web site at: www.neiu.edu/~reseller
Rod Sellers Outgoing President/Newsletter Editor
SECHS Installation DinnerThe Southeast Chicago Historical Society will hold its annual dinner on May 20, 2007 at the Crow Bar Restaurant. See enclosed letter for information on the dinner and how to get your tickets.
Neighborhood SportsThe theme of our installation dinner this year is neighborhood sports. We will display various items from our museum collections related to this topic and invite you all to bring any items related to your own athletic experiences. There will be tables available to display photos and items showing your athletic prowess.
Local NewsIt looks like things are ready to happen at the South Works site. An article in the news recently announced that the 118 acre parcel on the southern portion of the site, previously purchased for expansion by Solo Cup, will be sold to McCaffery Interests, a real estate development company. This group previously purchased 275 acres on the northern part of the site for mixed use development in July of 2004. Dan McCaffery, president of McCaffery Interests Inc. stated that the project is “going to knock people’s socks off.” According to McCaffery’s web site construction is scheduled to begin in late 2007.
The city of Chicago Department of Environment has begun work at Hegewisch Marsh future site of the Ford Calumet Environmental Center. Current work includes site restoration and rehabilitation. A “controlled burn” was also planned but had to be cancelled due to wind, wetness, and weather. A hike and tour of the Hegewsich Marsh site is scheduled for June 2 at 8:30 a.m. Call Nicole Kamins 312-744-5959 to register. (RSVP required)
An article by Rick Kogan in the Chicago Tribune Magazine on Sunday April 1 featured an East Side establishment, O’Hara’s tavern. The article was interesting and reasonably accurate but referred to the East Side as “an isolated Chicago neighborhood” and “pretty obscure.” Do you agree with the description? We have a copy of the article at the museum.
Museum NewsThanks to Gloria Novak, one of our dedicated volunteers, who opened the museum on a Saturday afternoon for some out of town visitors and relatives of society member Tony Arduino. It turned out that Gloria knew Tony’s grandmother, Irene Hendron, and his great-uncle, Jim Ferry. They had gone to school together at St. Francis De Sales. They had an enjoyable visit and the visitors were impressed with the variety of materials we have in our collections especially the Daily Calumets from the 1960s.
Thanks to Sharon Rolek who has donated several three ring binders and other stationery supplies. We are already using some of these materials in our IHA (Industrial Heritage Archives) project.
We recently came across an envelope with five snapshots of the Delaware House that had been donated by member Grace Sowa. The photos captured many of the finer details of the structure not evident in previous photos.
We continue to accept donations of historical materials at our museum. We are particular interested in old telephone directories especially those prior to 1950. The older, the better! We are also interested in materials related to neighborhood sports since this is the theme of our annual dinner this year. Items can be dropped off on Thursdays between 1 and 4 at the museum in the Calumet Park Field House at 9801 S. Avenue G in Chicago. Remember we are no longer open on the first Sunday of the month.
Local NotablesThe theme of last year’s installation dinner focused on “Local Notables”, figures who were important in the field of music. They continue to make news.
A recent Channel 11 program about “Soundies” included South Chicago native and renowned drummer, Gene Krupa in one of the songs shown on the program. Soundies were an early version of music videos which were produced from 1940 to 1946. The three minute programs were shown on coin-operated juke boxes, called Panorams, in bars, restaurants and other public places and featured many legendary artists including Gene Krupa.
Another South Chicago native, Michael Anthony, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March. Michael was the bass guitarist for the group Van Halen. He was born at South Chicago Hospital, attended Coles School, and lived at 86th and Saginaw before the Sobolewski family moved to California. Thanks to Michael’s father, Walt Sobolewski, for the “heads up.” For more information about Michael log on to: www.madanthonycafe.com
Evolving CalumetCopies of the documentary program “Evolving Calumet: A Journey” are available for loan from local Chicago public libraries and from our museum. The 33 minute program looks at the natural, historic and cultural aspects of the Calumet region and includes interviews with many area residents and experts as well as interesting aerial views of the Calumet River.
1990 So Long Old Comiskey ParkSociety member Jim Klekowski has released his latest book, a photographic essay which tells the story of the last year of the great ball park. Call 773-721-8418 for information.
Lost Southeast ChicagoHave you looked at the changing skyline of Chicago’s Southeast Side lately? It seems that every time you turn around some feature of our industrial landscape has disappeared. There is a well known book, entitled Lost Chicago, which documents the numerous architectural and cultural treasures that have disappeared from the Chicago skyline. The same thing is occurring to our own local industrial landscape as we speak. As we come across historical photographs at our museum we are constantly reminded of the tremendous changes that are occurring to our area.
The most obvious changes involve the disappearance of the steel mills which were the economic lifeblood of the area. Wisconsin Steel, United States Steel, and Republic Steel are gone. Almost nothing remains of these industrial giants. General Mills, the shipyards and numerous smaller industrial operations are also gone. In recent years some of the final reminders of our industrial heritage are disappearing. The last blast furnace in Chicago, the Acme “A Furnace” was torn down in July 2004. The gas holder at 111th and Torrence, the last of several on the Southeast Side, was razed a few months later. The conveyor that carried coke from the Acme Coke Plant at 112th and Torrence to the Acme Furnace plant on the East Side at 107th and Burley is gone and the suspension bridge which carried the conveyor across the Calumet River was dynamited and destroyed in August 2005. The huge Cargill grain elevator at 122nd and the Calumet River is gone as are numerous others that lined the banks of the Calumet River from Lake Michigan to Lake Calumet. The last physical reminders of the industrial era are the Acme Coke Plant in South Deering and the LTV (Republic) Coke Plant and the last two surviving Hulett Iron Ore Unloaders in the country parked on the east side of the Calumet River at about 114th Street.. Demolition of the Acme Coke Plant has started in earnest and several of the brick buildings which date to the early 1900s have already been torn down. The Quench Tower at the coke plant, which was part of the 2004 Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois 10 Most Endangered Sites list, will not be around much longer nor will the coke ovens.
Over this last winter the concrete towers from the Nike Missile Base at Wolf Lake were removed. These towers were used for electronic targeting equipment and were located on the south end of Wolf Lake near the trailer park. And while we are talking about Wolf Lake let us not forget the Delaware House from the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Jackson Park which disappeared many years ago.
Soon the only vestiges of our industrial and cultural past will be the memories of those who grew up during this era and the numerous photographs, artifacts, and historical materials in repositories like our own museum.
IHA Digital ProjectWork has begun in earnest on the “Industrial Heritage Archives of Chicago’s Calumet Region” project (IHA), a collaboration of the Southeast Chicago Historical Society, the Calumet Heritage Partnership and the Pullman State Historic Site. Currently photos and other materials are being selected, scanned and uploaded to the Pullman Virtual Museum web site. As we search our collections we are coming across historical treasures which have been previously unnoticed or forgotten over time. Many of these items have not been previously accessible to the public. Among the materials are plant magazines from local industries. “The Magnet” was published by Wisconsin Steel in 1920. “Steel Columns” plant magazine from 1937 and 1938 was published by U. S. Steel Chicago District. The “Calship News” was published by the Calumet Shipyards from 1942 until 1946 and tells about wartime construction at a small shipyard at 94th and the Calumet River. “The State Liner” was published by the State Line Generating Station. So far there are only a few issues from 1946 and 1947 on line but many more will be available soon. The December 1946 issue of the State Liner was devoted to plant employees who had served in the military during World War II. Other treasures include photographs of projects completed by Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company in the early 1900's. They come from a book published by the company in 1912. Some great images of U. S. Steel South Works from their 75th Anniversary booklet are posted as well as numerous other very interesting images. Thus far over 300 images are on line. Hopes are that, when finished, 600 to 700 images from our collections will be available for viewing.
Eventually a separate web site will be set up for the IHA Project but images can currently be accessed as follows. Go to www.pullman-museum.org and click on “Exhibits” at top of the page. Then click on “All Images” at the right side of the next page. Then click on letter of alphabet based on first word in title of image (e.g. United States Steel, Wisconsin Steel, Industry, Waterways, South Chicago etc.). If you get a message stating you do not have access try it again. Scroll down to desired image and be sure to click on “More...” for a complete description and in some cases additional images. If any question or comments contact email@example.com
SE Chicago Historical Society CalendarThursdays 1:00-4:00pm Southeast Chicago Historical Museum
Regular hours of the Southeast Chicago Historical Museum. Collections and exhibits focus on the history of Chicago’s Southeast Side including the communities of South Chicago, South Deering, the East Side, and Hegewisch. Museum is located in the Calumet Park Field House at 9801 S. Avenue G in Chicago.
The Southeast Chicago Historical Museum will no longer be open on the first Sunday of the month.
May 19, 2007 Saturday 10:00 am - 1:30 pm SE Side and Pullman Industrial History Bus Tour
Join Rod Sellers, Tom Shepherd and Mike Wagenbach, superintendent of the Pullman State Historic Site on a bus tour of historic industrial sites, remarkable bridges, the historic town of Pullman, and the Calumet Industrial Heritage Project, where Chicago’s steel making history and artifacts are being preserved. Call the East Side Chamber of Commerce at 773-721-7948 or Tom Shepherd at 773-370-3305 for information or to register. You may also register at the Southeast Chicago Historical Museum. Bus leaves from the Calumet Park Field House, 9801 S. Avenue G, Chicago promptly at 10 am. Join us at 9:15 am for coffee and an introduction to the area’s industrial history by Rod Sellers at 9:45 am. Bring along a brown bag lunch if you wish. $10 per person.
May 20, 2007 Sunday 12:30 pm Crow Bar Restaurant
Southeast Chicago Historical Society Annual Installation Dinner
24th Annual Dinner of the Southeast Historical Society will be held at the Crow Bar Restaurant. Social hour begins at 12:30 pm. and dinner will be served at 1:30 pm. Please reserve this date on your calendars.
June 2, 2007 Saturday 12:30 pm- 2:30 pm Toxic to Treasures Bus Tour
Join the Southeast Environmental Task Force and the Southeast Chicago Historical Society on a bus tour of the incredible contrasts created by nature and industry in the Calumet region. Call 773-646-0436 for more information.