Southeast Chicago Historical Society News
April, 2010 Newsletter Editor Rod Sellers Volume XXIV No. 2
A Few Words From the President:The Southeast Chicago Historical Society held its annual meeting on March 27, 2010. A small but enthusiastic group of members attended. We hope to see a larger crowd next year. Mark your calendars now for next year’s meeting which will be held on the last Saturday in March 2011. If you have any suggestions on how we can increase the attendance we would appreciate hearing them. The room across the lobby from the museum, where our meetings were formerly held has been converted to a fitness center so the meeting was moved to the room next to the park office. Quarters were a little cramped but we managed. Carolyn Mulac gave the treasurer’s report and it showed that we are still fiscally sound. We operated last year “in the black.” Carolyn does a wonderful, accurate job keeping the books and we all appreciate it. A membership report showed we have 114 yearly paid members and 121 lifetime members, a modest increase from last year. It is encouraging to see that our organization continues to grow. We want to remind you to pay this year’s dues which still are only 10 dollars. Unfortunately we do have to remove from membership those who are delinquent in payment of dues. Don’t let this happen to you. If you received a form in this newsletter your dues are late. A prospective slate of officers was announced by the nominating committee. No nominations were made from the floor and the following officers were elected unanimously:
President Barney JaneckiWe have been working in partnership with Friends of the Park on their Last Four Mile plan. They have informed us that two important bills have been introduced this session in the state legislature which we encourage our members and friends to support. Senate bill, SB 3778, proposes transferring 40 acres of the eastern shore of Lake Calumet from its current owner, the Illinois Port District to the Chicago Park District. Senate bill, SB 3779, proposes transferring 100 acres at Iroquois landing, just north of the 95th Street boundary of Calumet Park from the Port District to the Park District. Please write your Illinois representative and Illinois senator and urge your local legislators to support these bills. These bills would transfer vacant, unused land to the Chicago Park district for public access and recreation. One bill would give the public access to Lake Calumet. The other bill would help to fill in the gap in the public lakefront and expand Calumet Park. At our meeting a resolution of support for these two bills was passed. Rod Sellers gave a presentation at the meeting about the Hulett Iron Ore Unloaders which unloaded millions of tons of coal and ore while Republic Steel was in operation. A move to save these historical machines, which played a big part in the Great Lakes steel industry, failed. In the future people may have no knowledge of what a big role the steel industry played in our community. No one could foresee that steel making would only be a part of our history, a faint memory. Today everyone is very conscious of the environment. When we saw smoke, soot and red skies at night we were grateful because we knew people were working and food was being put on the table. See the article about the Huletts elsewhere in this newsletter.
Vice President Lucille Waszkiewicz
Treasurer Carolyn Mulac
Secretary Gloria Novak
Donations to our museum keep trickling in. Jack Smith donated a 75th Anniversary copy of the Daily Calumet from November 11, 1957. Peggy Glennie, on behalf of her mother Evelyn Paulsen, donated 1940 and 1941 Bowen year books, four Bowen Arrow school newspapers from 1940 and a 1939 newsletter from Sacred Heart Parish. Jim Suhs donated a 50th Anniversary (1946-1996) booklet from the Lake Shore Model Railroad club. The booklet replaces one that was water damaged in our museum. Yes, our roof leaks!
Our annual dinner will be held on May 16th at the Crow Bar Inn starting at 12:30. The price is only $18 dollars. The Crow Bar has been very fair to us in keeping their price down. Our dinners have been profitable for the last couple of years partially since hired entertainment at the dinner has been replaced with a presentation by Rod Sellers. Rod has another interesting program scheduled for us this year as we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of our museum which opened its doors on Labor Day 1985. An order form for tickets is enclosed with the newsletter. Please get your tickets as soon as possible so we can have an accurate count for the dinner.
We finally have the radiators working properly in the museum thanks to Jim Ostarello. While park district pipe fitters were fixing a leak in the field house, Jim was able to persuade them to look at our radiators. Thanks to them we got the job done. We can now regulate the heat in the museum in winter and, with our new air conditioners, the summer temperature. This is so important for the historical items which we have at the museum.
If you have any questions or comments stop by the museum on Thursday between 1 and 4 pm or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and check our web site at: www.neiu.edu/~reseller
Barney Janecki President
Membership MattersWe want to remind all members that if you have an address change or anything else we should know about please notify us. We are always glad to hear from you. We recently received an undelivered newsletter almost one year after we mailed it out. It was floating around in the U.S. postal system because it was undeliverable due to an incorrect address. There was much speculation at the museum about where this letter had been for a year! So you see it is important that you notify us of any changes so there are no interruptions in your getting the newsletter.
Yearly dues for the SECHS are due in January. Please make sure you dues are up to date. Yearly membership is $10. A lifetime membership is only $100. This is a great deal and you will never have to worry about paying dues again. We hate to nag about dues but we are even more reluctant to remove you from membership for non-payment of dues.
Please remember our current mailing address:
Southeast Chicago Historical SocietyThe East Side Chamber of Commerce will continue to accept phone calls for the society and museum at 773-721-7948.
c/o Calumet Park Field House
9801 S. Avenue G
Chicago, IL 60617.
HulettsThe Hulett Iron Ore Unloaders at the former Republic Steel site are gone. Another remnant of the steel industry on the Southeast Side has been demolished. The Huletts were huge machines that unloaded iron ore or coal from lake boats that brought their cargos to steel mills in the Great Lakes region. They completed the task of unloading the ore boats in a matter of hours, a task that had taken up to a week when done by hand. These machines were ten stories tall, weighed 880 tons and unloaded 17 tons of material with each bite of their huge buckets. They looked like an upside down letter “V” and were described by some as resembling a praying mantis. The operator of the Huletts rode in a cabin located on top of the bucket and operating a Hulett was described as “riding the neck of a dinosaur.” The Republic Steel Huletts were constructed in 1943 and operated until the plant was closed in 2001. For a time there was hope that the Republic / LTV Coke Plant would be sold and reopened but eventually the land was sold and the new owner had no use for the Huletts. During February of this year the Huletts were demolished and sold for scrap. Another element of the steel era skyline disappeared.
The Huletts were part of a group of steel related structures in the Calumet area placed on the 2004 Ten Most Endangered Historic Places list issued by the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois. Other local structures on that list were the Acme Coke Plant Quench Tower and the Acme Furnace Plant Blast Furnace. Another historically significant local structure was the coke conveyor which connected the Acme Coke Plant and Acme Furnace Plant via Chicago’s only suspension bridge over the Calumet River. The only survivor of the above “endangered” structures is the Quench Tower which is falling apart and will not be around much longer. Evidence of the steel industry is disappearing and soon there will be nothing left but photographs and memories.
Museum NewsWe recently came across a set of photographs and negatives from the South Chicago YMCA. They were photos from Annual Award Dinners in the 1930s and 1940s. There were also lists of team members and lists of awardees and staff from the dinners. We were able to scan the negatives and read many of the lists and recognize many of the individuals in the pictures. On a personal note, I found pictures of my father, Ed Sellers, who was active at the “Y” during those years. He was on the 1933 Boys Swim Team, 1933 Midget Tumblers, 1934 Phantom Fish and 1939 Mens’ Swimming Team. If you think you might know anyone in these photos stop by the museum and we will check them out.
Christine Walley, who grew up on the East Side and is currently an anthropology professor at MIT University sent us a copy of an article she wrote which was published recently. The article, “Deindustrializing Chicago: A Daughter’s Story” talks about the closing of Wisconsin Steel and the effects this event had on our neighborhood and specifically on her family. Christine is working on a book which will deal with the same subject. We will let you know when the book is published. Stop by the museum if you are interested in reading a copy of the article.
Gerard Dupczak donated a number of digital copies of WW II era photos from a ceremony in honor of a Hegewisch resident who died of non combat causes during the war. He thought that the name of the individual was Eddie Iwan. The location of the memorial service was not specified. Gerard had previously donated other WW II pictures of a ceremony of some sort at a monument near 134th Street and Avenue N. In both of these sets of photographs there is a marker with the names of local men and women who were in the service during the war. I believe that these were called “Honor Rolls” but I am not sure. In our collections we have a few other examples of such monuments. Two of these photos appeared on page 115 of Chicago’s Southeast Side Revisited. If any of our readers have any photographs of or additional information about locations of these types of displays please let us know.
Studio Gang Architects recently requested permission to use a photo from our collections for an upcoming publication. Studio Gang is the firm that created the winning design for the Ford Calumet Environmental Center at Hegewisch Marsh. They did pro bono work for the Acme Steel Museum project Studio Gang recently won the 2009 Skyscraper of the Year award for their Aqua Tower, an 81 story residential and hotel tower in the Lakeshore East neighborhood and we congratulate them.
Royal Bank donated individual framed photos of the recipients of the Academy of Humanitarians awards. Neil Bosanko previously donated a large photo display of all winners. Look for these items to be displayed at the museum in the near future.
For the first time Chicago Neighborhood Tours will visit the Southeast Side. The City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs will conduct two tours of South Chicago including stops at the National Shrine of St. Jude at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, St. Michael’s Church, the USX Ore Walls, and the Calumet Park Field House. The dates for these tours are June 26 and October 2. Tours run from 10 am to 2:30 pm and can be booked by calling 312-742-1190.
Facebook.comAs soon as some technical questions and details have been worked out, the Southeast Chicago Historical Society hopes to have a presence on the Facebook web site. Look for our debut!
Southeast Side NewsThere are several scheduled and potential construction projects that involve the Southeast Side. One that will create massive traffic problems is the reconstruction of the intersection of 130th Street and Torrence Avenue. The first part of that project has actually already been completed with the construction of 126th Place (How many of you thought it was 126th Street?) which connects Avenue O and Torrence Avenue and provides access to the Chicago Manufacturing Center, also called the Ford Supplier Park. That project also included moving Torrence Avenue to the east along a former railroad right of way so as to create access to the Ford Plant for trucks delivering parts and supplies. Some infrastructure work has also been completed but the bulk of the reconstruction of the intersection will be done from November 2010 to December 2014. The work includes lowering the Torrence Avenue and 130th Street roadways for vehicular traffic so that it will pass under the existing railroad tracks thereby eliminating the traffic tie-ups caused by trains in that area. The project involves construction of six new bridges including two for the Norfolk and Southern tracks and one for the South Shore tracks. When the project is completed there will be no access to Torrence Avenue from east 130th Street. The only access will be via the newly reconfigured Brainard Avenue. The Torrence Avenue bridge over the Calumet River at approximately 125th Street is also scheduled for reconstruction this year. Torrence Avenue is scheduled for resurfacing from the Torrence Avenue Bridge to 95th Street as well. These projects will take place this year. Work will be also be taking place at Indian Ridge Marsh along 122nd Street between Torrence Avenue and Stony Island Avenue. Good luck driving in the area!
The Chicago Plan Commission, at an upcoming meeting, will consider rezoning 400 acres of the former U. S. Steel South Works site from 79th Street to 87th Street. Plans call for 13,500 residences and 800,000 square feet of retail and may take 40 years to complete. Daniel McCaffery, president of McCaffery Interests Inc., is heading up the redevelopment. Plans also include donating 100 acres of open space to the city, and land for a new community center and high school. Not included is the 118 acre piece at the south end of the former steel mill which was to be the location of a new Solo cup factory. The first phase of construction will occur at the northwest corner of the site, near 79th and Brandon, and would include 136 townhomes, stores and a “big box” retailer. Actual construction is probably a couple of years away.
The US EPA has finally put the Lake Calumet Cluster Sites on their Superfund List. This makes the sites eligible for additional federal funding to clean up this heavily polluted region. The Lake Calumet Cluster Sites are bounded by 122nd Street on the south, the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on the east and some large landfills on the west and to the north. They are in the midst of one of the largest wetland areas in existence in the city of Chicago, in walking distance of Indian Ridge Marsh, Big Marsh, Heron Pond and Deadstick Pond. Another site being looked at for inclusion on the Super Fund List is the former Acme Coke Plant site near 112th and Torrence Avenue.
Calumet Fisheries, the “fish house” on the south west side of the 95th Street bridge, was the winner of the very prestigious 2010 American Classics Award from the James Beard Foundation. The awards are referred to by Time Magazine as the “Oscars of the food world.” Calumet Fisheries started at the 92nd Street bridge in 1928 but was later relocated and moved to its present location. Its previous claim to fame was being included in a scene from the “Blues Brothers” movie just before the Bluesmobile jumps the opening 95th Street bridge. Congratulations to our local winner.
On a sad note, a number of locals have passed since our last newsletter. Jim Sulski died from cancer at the young age of 52. He was a Bowen High School grad, former reporter for the Daily Calumet and most recently a journalism teacher and newspaper advisor at Columbia College in Chicago. We will remember Jim for his invaluable donations to the Southeast Chicago Historical Project. His name comes up often when looking for historical materials in our museum. John “Babe” Cappello, East Sider by birth, noted local athlete and coach and educator at St. Francis De Sales High School died at the age of 66, also from cancer. I remember “working out” with John and other local athletes in Calumet Park at the end of summer getting ready for the upcoming football season. Frank Lumpkin died recently at the age of 93. Frank led a long life of struggle for social justice, most notably as head of the Save Our Jobs Committee which fought for lost pensions and benefits from the closed Wisconsin Steel plant. After a 17 year struggle a portion of the money owed to the workers was recovered. A standing room only memorial for Frank was held April 5 at the Zone. Our condolences to the families of these individuals.
SE Chicago Historical Society Calendar
Thursdays 1:00-4:00 p.m. 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. Check our web site for other events: http://www.neiu.edu/~reseller/sehsevents.html
Exhibit at the Vodak East Side Library “The Burnham Plan: Impetus for Change on the Southeast Side”
The exhibit portrays the aspects of the 1909 Burnham Plan that relate to Chicago’s Southeast Side and subsequent planning initiatives for the area. The exhibit was originally displayed at the Southeast Chicago Historical Museum. Exhibit will close in May and be replaced by our recent art exhibit from the Southeast Chicago Historical Museum
May 1, May 15, May 29 Saturdays 10 am to 1:00 pm Southeast Chicago Historical Museum
Special hours for the Southeast Chicago Historical Museum. The museum will be open in conjunction with the 10th Ward Green Summit tours to be given on those days. Even if you do not go on the tours visit the museum on these special days.
Southeast Chicago Historical Society Annual Installation DinnerMay 16, 2010 Sunday 12:30 p.m. Crow Bar Restaurant
The 27th Annual Dinner of the Southeast Historical Society will be held at the Crow Bar Restaurant. Social hour begins at 12:30 p.m. and dinner will be served at 1:30 p.m. Please reserve this date on your calendars and get your tickets now.. This dinner will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the opening of our museum.