Southeast Historical Society
Volume XVIII No. 3
Few Words From the President:
My how time flies, summer has
fall is with us.
Back in July, our museum received an unusual artifact from our
member, Emily M. Zinnen. She received this item from her deceased
friend, Irene Stancik (1918-1994). It seems that Irene had worked
for the U.S. State Department. She was the daughter of Martin and
Mary Stancik, proprietors of a tavern in Hegewisch. While working
for the Department she was stationed in Prague, Panama, Montreal and
where Claire Booth Luce was our Ambassador at the time.
While a secretary in Rio de Janeiro, she obtained a memento of
Brazil which she gave to Emily.
Now in our museum we have a small gourd cup, about the size of
a small tennis ball.
This hand decorated cup was used by the Gauchos in the Pampas
to serve tea. The tea was sipped with the use of a decorated
straw with a strainer at one end.
It is hard for me to believe that any other local museum would
have such an unusual artifact.
Our thanks to you, Emily.
Emily told of another world traveler from Hegewisch, Francis
Dyrek, a retired State Department employee, whose parents operated a
shop at 134th and Burley. She now lives in a loop high rise.
If you visit our museum, you will note that we now have a new
visitor sign-in book.
The old book covered the years 1999 through 2003. The
are the results of a review of the contents.
For the last five years, we averaged over 220 sign-ins per
They consisted of 172 Chicagoans, 117 suburbanites and 25 out of metro
Chicago visitors. These visitors were people from Alaska, AZ, CA,
CO, FL, GA, IA, IN, KS, KY, OR, OK, MI, NC, NJ, NY, VA, WA, WI, W VA,
D.C. and British Columbia.
Of course, this did not include other visitors who missed signing
in. Hopefully when you bring yourself with visitors you ask them
to sign in.
We are pleased that some of you helped with a new coalition,
Chicago’s Steel Heritage Project that is trying to preserve the
Acme Coke Plant, at 112th and Torrence. The local press told of a
substantial donation from the Steel Workers’ Union, but more donations
are still needed. Let us not forget our industrial past.
Hope the fall season will be kind to you all.
Chicago's Steel Heritage Project Update
Steelworkers, union leaders, labor historians, industrial
business organizations, and university representatives have joined
as Chicago's Steel Heritage Project to save the last vestiges of
historic steel making structures, located in Southeast Chicago, the
of Chicago’s early steel industry. Long range plans are to create
a museum devoted to the industrial and labor history of the area on the
Acme Coke Plant site at 112th and Torrence. The initial stage of
the project requires raising money to purchase the coke plant
from the demolition company which has the rights to tear down
on the coke plant site. Donations from individuals (several
donations from members of the Southeast Historical Society), Landmarks
Preservation Council of Illinois, and a large donation from District 7
of the United Steelworkers of America have raised enough money to meet
the down payment and halt demolition, at least for now.
money needs to be raised to meet future payments.
Joseph A. Mulac
Since our last newsletter the skyline in the area has
The Acme blast furnace at 107th and the Calumet River has
This was the last blast furnace in Chicago. Much of the conveyor
system has been torn down. The conveyor connected the Acme Coke
at 112th and Torrence with the Furnace Plant on the east side of the
This process has not been without incident. Torrence Avenue was
for a couple of days when the conveyor over the street collapsed during
demolition. Scheduled to be torn down soon is the conveyor bridge
over the Calumet River at 110th Street. This is believed to be
only existing suspension bridge in Chicago. Historical relics of
our industrial past are disappearing. We need to spread the word
and continue our efforts to save our history. For further
on this project contact Chicago’s Steel Heritage Project at
View their web site at:
Dedicated volunteer Ora Coon has been missed at the
recent months. A letter from Frank Stanley, whose presence is
deeply missed, summarizes the thoughts of all of us who have worked
Ora over the years. Frank states:
“Since the beginning of the E.S.H.S. and
S.E.H.S. she has been a strong influence on policy and all
of our organization. This wonderfully intelligent, trustworthy,
woman has stood at my side in all endeavors as co-curator since the
opened its doors on Labor Day of 1985 when it was little more than a
room with a handful of historical items and a lot of pictures depicting
our historical growth. Ora has a vast knowledge of family
having lived in their midst for many years. Hardly a week would
that someone would come in and ask a question about their family.
Ora would say ‘aren’t you so and so who lived at such an address,
Taylor or Gallistel School, etc. etc.’. Before the discussion
we were all shaking hands, hugging and, at times, weeping for
Many a time, on the way home from Thursday openings, Ora would
say, ‘what a wonderful time we had today meeting so many old timers of
the area, or securing a donation for the museum’. Ora always
to donations as “treasures”. I don’t think she ever uttered the
unworthy, each item was of great value.
In my understanding of running a museum I attribute a great deal
to my long and close association with Ora. She picked me up when
I was discouraged and gave a strong arm of support when needed.
were equal in authority and responsibility as co-curators and we have a
great deal to be grateful to Ora for her loyalty and dependability over
a lifetime. Ora, may you enjoy good health, happiness in the
in the knowledge that your friends and supporters appreciate your
contributions to the Southeast Side.”
Frank, we echo your sentiments and thank both you and Ora for
your many years of dedicated service to the museum and our
We can only hope that we are adequate to the task of following in your
Our museum continues to host interesting visitors and
In recent weeks we were visited by a group from the South Chicago
House and by graduate science students from Northwestern University who
were doing soil sampling in the area. The grad students were
in the industrial history of the region. Rod Sellers gave a brief
presentation and showed them our collections of 1938 aerial photographs
and maps showing fill deposits in the Calumet area.
Bowen and Washington H. S. year books
In recent months Rod has done presentations on the history of
the Calumet River to the South Suburban Genealogical and Historical
and to the Calumet Ecological Park Association. This presentation
will be repeated at the Calumet Park Field House on November 11 at 7:00
pm.. Rod has also conducted a tour of the Calumet River on July
for the Calumet Area Industrial Council and a tour of the Southeast
for students in the IB Program of Washington High School.
Recent visitors to the museum have included reporters from the
Reader newspaper and a writer from the Claretian Publishers.
Ogurek selected several pictures from our collection for a soon
be published book about the Calumet River.
In an attempt to make our collection more “user friendly” we
have created a number of lists of materials available in the
The following collections are included:
Bowen and Washington H. S. news papers
Local 65 Union Newspapers
State Line Generating Plant newspapers
Southeast Historical Society Newsletters
various slide collections
Daily Calumet various dates
We are working on creating other lists including church anniversary
and school class photos.
We have updated our file of East Side / Southeast Historical
Society newsletters. Our first newsletter was published in Summer
of 1986 and featured an article on “Oldest Monument in the Chicago
and noted a number of donations to the museum including a foot powered
organ donated by Frieda Zimmerman. This file makes for very
reading. Stop by the museum to see the newsletters. By the
way, our newsletters starting with December 1999 are posted on-line on
our web site at:
The Cultural Connections program held its Kick-Off
event for their
2004-05 season on September 21 at the Field Museum of Natural
All member organizations attended and brought displays from their
institutions. The Southeast Historical Society display was viewed
by numerous guests that evening. A brochure with information
upcoming Cultural Connections events is available at the museum.
85 Years of Community Service
A well-known mortuary on the East Side recently
years of caring service to the community. It all started in
of 1919 when Claude E. Griesel purchased the business at 100th Street
Ewing Avenue from Rogan Mortuary. He moved further down Ewing
and built his establishment at 10240 Ewing. Prior to
his own business, Claude worked for his uncle Adam Griesel who owned a
funeral home in South Chicago at 8944 Commercial
Following his death in 1939, his wife Grace continued the business and
became the funeral director with the aid of familiar names such as
J. Smith who later took over the home along with Jack Bohling.
According to Griesel’s great-grandson, Jim Mack, there was a
rumor to the effect that Al Capone had visited the mortuary for a
of one of his cronies who did not make it alive across the state
Funeral wakes in the early 1900's were mainly held in the parlor of the
family home for a 24 hour period. The mortician would bring the
candles, and kneelers to the home. Following the wake, the
and his assistants would retrieve the coffin and proceed with the
for the long trip to the cemetery for the burial. Mr. Griesel was
among the few early morticians to initiate wakes at the chapel in the
home. Some folks sneered at the new procedure which eventually
Following the retirement of Grace Griesel, Jim Mack became
and owner of the funeral home from 1969 to 2003 when morticians Rosario
Jimenez Stodden and her husband Leo Stodden became the new owners of
business. Their daughter, Felicia Stodden, joined them as an
upon graduation from morticians school. The Stoddens held an open
house on September 26th to introduce themselves to the community and to
celebrate the 85th anniversary of the Griesel Mortuary.
by Gloria Novak
Almost everyone remembers the Goldblatt’s Store at 91st and
Avenue but how many remember that Goldblatt’s was originally located in
the former Lederer Department Store? And how many of you remember
that the original Goldblatt’s Store was a three story
Goldblatt’s opened in South Chicago in 1929 in the former Lederer
Store building. A few years later a new structure was built, a
story building which opened in December, 1935. Almost
it was realized that the 120,000 square foot building was too small to
meet the demands of southeast side shoppers and plans were made to add
two more floors and an additional 58,000 square feet.
According to the June 6, 1936 South Chicago Centennial Edition
of the Daily Calumet: “The building is of cut stone, trimmed with
steel and is of modern design. The entire building is equipped
ventilation. The elevators are the modern high speed type with
on the cars.”
Stop in at the Southeast Historical Museum to view a giant picture
of the Lederer Store and a colorized post card view of the three story
Green Bay, Illinois
If you have access to the Internet and want a laugh go
maps and search for Green Bay, Illinois. You will see a map of
Southeast Side with Green Bay, Illinois located at 88th and
Further study will reveal several SE Side historical designations, most
in the wrong locations, and many of which are no longer in use.
many of you knew that South Pole, Illinois and Calumet, Illinois (not
City) are on the SE Side? And did you know that the Bush is
at 84th and Luella? The suburb of South Chicago Heights will be
to learn that they have moved from Sauk Trail and Halsted Street to the
Southeast Side of Chicago. And South Chicago is now on the east
of the Calumet River. So much for accuracy of information on the
Internet. I was alerted to this information by a Packer fan who
surprised to learn that Green Bay is in Chicago. YAHOO!
Columbus Monument Rededicated
Drake Fountain, also known as the Columbus Monument,
at 92nd Street, South Chicago Avenue and Exchange Avenue. It was
a gift to Chicago from hotel owner, John B. Drake and was originally
on Washington Street in a plaza created by a light court of the former
City Hall-County Building. Known as an “ice water fountain”, it
dispensed cool drinking water from its four granite basins to office
passing by. It is distinguished by its Victorian Gothic design
features curving buttresses rising to a Gothic spire, in front of which
is a bronze statue of a young Christopher Columbus. Believed to
Chicago’s first statue commemorating Columbus, the monument was
dedicated in December 1892 to mark the 400th anniversary of his
The fountain was moved to La Salle Street in 1906 and to its current
in 1909. It was designated a Chicago Landmark by ordinance of the
City Council on March 10, 2004. The monument was rededicated in a
ceremony on October 8, 2004.
Maas / Mercier Family
We received an e-mail from a fomer East Side
Jerry Mercier, now living in Idaho. He sent copies of numerous
relating to his family's history. There are some very interesting
photos of activities of the East Side Bible Church and a set of class
from Gallistel School between 1945 and 1953. Many of the
in the photos were identified by Jerry but there are others who still
to be named. If you would like to help identify individuals in
photos or see the photos stop by the museum.
SE Side Calendar
November 11, 2004
“Calumet River” Slide Show
Rod Sellers, co-author of Chicago's Southeast Side and author of
Southeast Side Revisited, presents a virtual tour of the Calumet
The history and present condition of “Chicago’s Other River” will
The presentation will take place on Thursday, November 11, 2004 from
7:00 pm to 8:30 pm at the Calumet Park Field House, the site of the
Historical Museum, located at 9801 S. Avenue G in Chicago.
November 6, 7, 13, 14, 2004
Lake Shore Model Railroad Open House
The Lake Shore Model Railroad Association will be celebrating their
58th year by holding an Open House at their facilities in the Calumet
Field House, lower level, 9801 S. Avenue G on Saturday and Sunday,
6,7,13,and 14 from 11:00am to 4:00 pm. www.lsmodelrr.org if
any questions. The Southeast Historical Museum will be open from
12-3 on Sunday November 6 and November 13.
November 13, 2004
10:00am-12:30pm Toxic to
We’ll meet at the Calumet Park Field House 98th and Avenue G for a
bus tour through the city’s most interesting ecological region.
remarkable wetlands, Lake Calumet, Wolf Lake and the Calumet
View interesting bridges, industrial sites, landfills (past and
and unique cultural attractions. $10 per person. Call
or visit www.southeastenvironmental.org for information and
December 9, 2004
Join Aaron Rosinski of the Southeast Environmental Task Force and Rod
Sellers of the Southeast Historical Society for a presentation and
about the Calumet River. Program will take place at the Chicago
Center 78 E. Washington in downtown Chicago and is hosted by The
of the Parks. Call 312-857-2757 for further info.