Southeast Chicago Historical Society News
April, 2008 Newsletter Editor Rod Sellers Volume XXII No. 2
A Few Words From the President:Our historical society lost another long time member, Rev. James P. Keating. Father Keating passed away in February at the age of 83. He certainly was active in numerous community organizations throughout his priesthood, too many to mention. He was a valued member of our historical society and our Annual Meeting did not seem the same without his presence. Father Jim spent most of his life serving parishes on the Southeast Side. He was assigned to St. Columba 1951-52, St. Ailbe 1952-56, St. Patrick 1964-68, St. Kevin 1968-72, and St. Francis De Sales 1973-2004. He was also Port Chaplain of Chicago from 1968 to the present. The entire community feels his loss. He was admired by many for his dedication and deep concern for the welfare of the people on Chicago’s Southeast Side.
The Southeast Chicago Historical Society held its annual meeting March 29th. Treasurer Caroline Mulac gave us a treasurer’s report which showed we are fiscally sound. Caroline does a great job with making sure our financial records are accurate filing the many forms required by various government agencies. A membership report showed that we have approximately 225 members, about half of them life members. A slate of officers was announced by the Nominating Committee and the current officers agreed to hold office for another year. However they need the help and full cooperation of the membership to make this a growing and successful organization.
Officers officially elected at the meeting are:
President Barney JanieckiA report was made about the past year’s activities and our partnerships with other organizations and projects. It has been a very busy year.
Vice President Jim Ostarello
Treasurer Carolyn Mulac
Kevin Murphy & Joann Podkul
Recording Secretary Gloria Novak
Our annual dinner will be again held at the Crow Bar Inn which, I believe everyone will agree, has treated us well. It will be held May 18 with a cost of $17 per ticket. Again we are trying to keep the cost down in spite of rising prices. An order form for tickets is enclosed with this newsletter. Please get your tickets as soon as possible so we can have an accurate count for our dinner.
Our museum, I believe, holds the largest collection of Bowen yearbooks that exists .in the world. From 1917 to 2003 we are only missing a few issues (1921, 1926, 1947, 1958, 1969, 1971, 1977, 1980 and 1989). Thanks to all the donors of these historical treasures. If anyone can fill in the missing gaps it would be greatly appreciated. Let’s see if we can get a complete collection of Bowenites.
The Wheaton Center for History now has our Eastland port hole on loan until August for an exhibit. The port hole was donated by George Kettell. His father worked at the Calumet Shipyard in South Chicago where the ship was being refitted to meet new Navy regulations. George’s father came into possession of the port hole prior to the sinking of the Eastland in 1915. When George’s father passed away it remained with the family until 1993 when George donated it to our museum. The Wheaton Center for history is a fine museum and if you visit the museum and tell them you are a member of our historical society they may not charge you their regular admission fee which is $7.
The Chicago History Museum has a new exhibit which opened recently. “Catholic Chicago” tells the story of many of Chicago’s ethnic groups through the history of their churches. Although I have not yet seen the exhibit I look forward to doing so and discovering what they have to say about Southeast Side Catholic parishes. The exhibit runs through January 4, 2009.
If you have 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/
Barney Janecki President
Don’t Throw It Out!Remember we want your “historical stuff.” Help us preserve the rich history of Chicago’s Southeast Side by donating your artifacts, photos and memorabilia to the Southeast Chicago Historical Society. We are particularly interested in area phone directories. We have a few at the museum and they are used regularly. We have various older directories from 1898, 1899, 1915, 1935, 1938, and 1958. Help us to fill in the gaps. Please contact us or bring your donations in to our museum located in the Calumet Park Field House at 9801 S. Avenue G in Chicago. We are open on Thursdays from 1-4. If in doubt don’t throw it out, throw it our way!
SECHS Installation DinnerThe Southeast Chicago Historical Society will hold its annual dinner on May 18, 2008 at the Crow Bar Restaurant. See enclosed letter for information on the dinner and how to get your tickets.
Industrial HistoryThe theme of our installation dinner this year is Industrial History. We will display various items from our museum collections related to this topic and invite you all to bring any items related to your industrial experiences. There will be tables available to display photos and items which you are willing to share.
Farewell East Side Savings BankLooking back into the early financial institutions of our community, the Raddatz family played its part in the time capsule of the history of the East Side. This dates back to June of 1920 when William Raddatz, Sr. hung his “open for business” sign on the door of his first insurance agency, generating additional business by giving small loans to residents. Some years later Raddatz, along with a few local East Side businessmen established the East Side Savings and Loan. The business venture started at 100th street and Ewing, moved to 102nd and Ewing, and later to 10533 Ewing. In 1976 the family opened a new location at 11157 Ewing . William Raddatz, Sr. was instrumental in saving the loss of personal property of many struggling investors and homeowners during the depression years. When Raddatz, Sr. died in 1950, his son William E. Raddatz , a graduate of the University of Chicago and DePaul University assumed legal responsibility for the Savings and Loan, and later became president. His wife, Mildred, also a graduate of DePaul , began working with her husband. In 1970, daughters Diane and Debbie worked part time. Later that year Diane, a graduate of DePaul University, decided to join her parents at the Savings and Loan. When her father died in 1988, Diane was elected president and CEO. A difficult decision was made and finalized early in 2007 to move and relocate their headquarters to Tamarac, Florida under the direction of entrepreneur Diane and retain the same name, First East Side Savings Bank. Before Diane and her mother, Mildred made their exit to Florida, they were entertained in December of 2007 at a farewell luncheon at the Zone, 118th and Avenue O in recognition of their long time generosity to community organizations. Over 40 residents and members of community organizations, including Illiana Post 220, the Southeast Chicago Historical Society, East Side Chamber of Commerce and Alderman John Pope attended the gathering. The affair was spearheaded by Rev. Zaki Zaki, pastor of the East Side United Methodist Church.
by Gloria Novak
Movies and the Southeast SideAn article in our last newsletter about movies made on the Southeast Side sparked a lot of conversation and interest. I took some time to carefully view “Appointment with Danger” and was amazed by the easily recognized scenes of South Chicago and the East Side that appeared in the movie which was supposedly set in Gary Indiana. Among the SE Side locales in the movie were Immaculate Conception church (exterior and interior shots), the 92nd and 95th Street Bridges and Harbor Avenue, the Calumet River, and several industrial shots. What is most interesting about these scenes is that they capture what the area looked like in the 1950s. Of course “The Blues Brothers” (my favorite movie ever made in Chicago) had several scenes filmed in the area. The most recognizable ones were the bridge jumping scene at the 95th Street Bridge and the gospel music scene at Pilgrim Baptist Church, Triple Rock Baptist Church in the movie. Other less well known scenes were shot at 95th Street under the Skyway and at a local beauty salon at 85th and Burley, The Curl Up and Dye Shop in the movie. Other movies shot in this area include the two “Barber Shop” movies which were set near the intersection of 79th and Exchange. “Road to Perdition” with Tom Hanks and Paul Newman includes a scene from the former Ringer Real Estate Office near 79th and Exchange. If you have seen the movie, the first bank robbery committed by Tom Hank’s character was filmed at the above location. Although I have not yet located a copy, “Two Fathers, Search for Justice” with George Hamilton and Robert Conrad was filmed in the area. It includes several scenes, as I vaguely recall, in the Bush and United States Steel. If there are any other local movies you are aware of please let us know and we will relay the information in future newsletters.
Related to movies, of course, are movie theaters. Local author Bob Sheldon gave us a list of area movie theaters which was quite a bit more extensive than previously known. I am sure most of our readers remember the Avalon, Chelten, Commercial, Gayety, East Side and Hegewisch Theaters. We have photos and/or other materials at the museum related to the Lincoln, Bessemer, Pete’s Nickelodeon, the Vaudette, the Calumet, and the Hegewisch Opera House. Bob gave us a list of local theaters with addresses, dates of operation, and other information which included the following theaters: Stanley, Cheltenham, Crown, Star, Lederer Opera House, Wonderland, Bowen, International, Bijou, Ewing, Eastside (9910 Ewing), and Ontario. For information about these theaters or to add additional local theaters to the list stop by the museum or drop us a line or an e-mail. Bob was particular interested in pictures of the Stanley Theater located at 3010 E. 79th Street, later the location of Alexander’s Restaurant. The theater was open from 1915 to 1929.
Another movie theater in the news recently was the Avalon Theater, later renamed the New Regal Theater. This city landmark located at 1641 E. 79th Street in the South Chicago community has had some financial problems for a number of years but a new group of investors has closed a deal to reopen the theater which has a 2,250 seat auditorium and a Middle Eastern architectural theme designed by John Eberson.by Rod Sellers
Museum NewsWork is proceeding nicely with a few much needed maintenance projects in our museum. Volunteers Clarence and Patricia Wigsmoen are replacing plastic covering and repairing our Large Panel Collection which is on the wall near the entrance to the museum. We are also redoing the identification labels for the photos and cataloging the contents of this most interesting display. Sometimes we who work in the museum “forget” about some of the treasures we have. In doing this project we have come across numerous interesting historical streetscapes, photos of local notables and sports figures, and even three tickets from the 1944 World Series. We have also begun to catalog the large number of class and graduation photos from area schools which are in this collection and elsewhere in the museum.
The other major project is to catalog our Large Album Collection. This is a set of 10 albums with newspaper articles, photos and all sorts of interesting items. Among items of interest in this collection are a number of articles written for the Southeast Chicago Historical Project which appeared in the Daily Calumet weekly for almost three years between 1981 and 1984. There are full pages from special editions of the Daily Calumet including the 1936 South Chicago Centennial, the Calumet’s 60th Anniversary in 1941, the East Side Centennial 1951 and other special editions. And there are any number of very interesting newspaper articles and news photos in the albums as well.
We recently came across an envelope that “appeared” in the museum. It contained eight black and white 4x5 negatives and was marked “Hegewisch News.” We were able to scan the negatives and found five pictures of Harry Truman’s visit to Chicago in 1948. Of more interest to local historians were three pictures of a July 4, 1947 parade on 133rd and Baltimore Avenue in Hegewisch. The views of the street and businesses of the time were priceless. Of particular interest in the view were the Beacon tower and the marquee for the Hegewisch Theater. We also recently received several pictures of a WWII street corner display at 134th and Avenue N dedicated to the men of the neighborhood who were serving in the armed forces at that time.
We have had, as usual, numerous requests for information. We will pass some of these along. Does anyone remember Bubbling Over Beverages located on 83rd Street west of Exchange Avenue? The Washington High School class of 1968 is planning a 40th reunion. They are seeking some missing classmates. Names of the missing classmates and further information about the reunion is available at:
We received a request for information about a semi-pro baseball team named the Chicago Steelers. They were in existence in the 1940s and were coached by Jim Earl. Can anyone help?
In doing some research to answer an information request I came across an article “Growing Up in South Chicago During the Depression.” After some additional research I found that it was a chapter from a book, “Holding the Center: Memoirs of a Life in Higher Education” written by Howard Wesley Johnson. Johnson was president of MIT from 1966 to 1971. Local boy makes good!
Local NewsAn area angler, ice fishing on the Illinois side of Wolf Lake on March 2, caught a 42 inch northern pike which weighed in at 22.83 pounds. It is believed to be the largest northern ever caught in modern Chicago. And it happened in our backyard!
A great deal of behind the scenes work is taking place on two major real estate projects in the area. The South Works project, headed by McCaffery Development is waiting for the Route 41 rerouting construction to be completed by the city. They are working with Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, one of Chicago’s premier architectural firms and Sasaki Associates, landscape architects, on development ideas for their redevelopment project which will be known as Lakeside. We have been in contact with the developers to encourage them to, in some way, recognize and commemorate the history of the South Works site and the surrounding neighborhoods. Here are a few links to information about the South Works Project (Lakeside Project).
The developers of the Avenue K project in Hegewisch are beginning infrastructure work and are also “tweaking” their original plans for the site. Based on community input they have already increased the amount of acreage on the site to be devoted to open space and decreased the number of housing units to be built on the site.
We are anxiously awaiting completion of three projects in progress in the 10th ward sponsored by the alderman, John Pope. The projects are: the rehabilitation of Hummel Square, also referred to as the East Side Memorial, at 100th Street and Indianapolis Boulevard; the labor memorial next to the fire station at 116th and Avenue O; and the veterans memorial in Hegewisch at Baltimore and Brainard Avenues. No dates of final completion have been announced but we will keep you advised.
Additional News and InformationLooks like we have run out of space for this issue. Check the on-line version of this newsletter for more:
SE Chicago Historical Society Calendar
Thursdays 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 is no longer open on the first Sunday of the month.
May 17, 2008 Saturday 2:00pm Great Chicago Places and Spaces / Toxics to Treasures Tour
Join Rod Sellers and the Southeast Environmental Task Force on a bus tour of the incredible contrasts created by nature and industry in the Calumet area. This tour is part of the city’s Great Chicago Places and Spaces program and requires preregistration. Go to www.greatchicagoplaces.us/ to register or call 312-744-3315 for additional information
May 18, 2008 Sunday 12:30 pm Crow Bar Restaurant
Southeast Chicago Historical Society Annual Installation Dinner24th 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.
May 31, 2008 Saturday 9am-2pm 10th Ward Green Summit
Tips on greening your home, bus tour of area “green” housing and recreation and stewardship sites, and much more!! Sponsored by Claretian Associates, the Calumet Stewardship Initiative and other community organizations. Begin the day at the Villa Guadalupe Senior Residence, 3201 E. 91st Street. For details check:
www.calumetstewardshipinitiative.org/ or call Angela Hurlock at Claretian Associates 773-734-9181.
For other information about Southeast Side events see the following web sites:
Calumet Stewardship Initiative at:
Southeast Side Events at: