Southeast Chicago Historical Society
October, 2007 Volume XXI No. 4
A Few Words From the President:October is American Archives month. The Southeast Chicago Historical Society is proud of our collection of archives. Our museum is frequented by many people who take advantage of the materials we have to offer. Our visitors include authors, reporters, researchers, students, genealogists, documentary producers, former and current residents, and folks interested in history. We help other local organizations in their work and try to provide answers to questions about the history of Chicago’s Southeast Side. We have information regarding area industry, schools, churches, organizations, sports, commerce and so much more. We have original bound volumes of the Daily Calumet for the years between 1960 and 1979 as well as some additional dates. I dare anyone who looks for some news item in the Daily Calumet to not want to spend hours reading this wonderful and interesting historical resource. Our collections are particularly strong in regard to historical photographs. We welcome all visitors, but especially the members of our historical society who provide the support that keeps us operating, to visit us and make use of our extensive collections. When was the last time you visited the museum?
In honor of American Archives month the Chicago Area Archivists and the Chicago Metro History Education Center are sponsoring the 2007 Chicago Archives Fair at the Newberry Library. The event will be held October 20. The Southeast Chicago Historical Society will have a table showcasing some of our materials. We will be represented by yours truly and Rod Sellers. For further information about the fair go to:
http://www.vandercook.edu/archives/CAAarchivesmonth.htm or call 773-771-9172 or 773-325-7896. The event is free and open to the public. No pre-registration is necessary.
The Boys Alliance Club is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year and, thanks to Bob Bednarek who sadly passed away last January, we received a large donation of items related to this club. Stanley Pinski was instrumental in organizing this fine group which sponsored a drum and bugle corps that won numerous awards including placing first in state competition. We also have a large collection of materials related to the development of the port facilities at Lake Calumet. Stanley Pinski was involved in the efforts to create the port.
Friends of mine, John and Cheryl Miller, donated a number of pieces of dinnerware which were obtained from the Chelten Theater. In the 1930s, for those who do not remember, the Chelten, on each Thursday, gave a piece of dinnerware to each patron. If you did not miss a week you could end up with a complete set of dinnerware. Times have certainly changed when a box of popcorn now costs over $5. We also have a number of other unusual plates. One of our members, Ray Mulac, recently brought in a plate from Heinson and Henson grocery and notions store dated 1910. The store was located at 8800 S. Buffalo. These plates were usually given to customers during the holidays. Ray also brought in a sugar bowl and creamer imprinted with an image of Bessemer Park.
Special thanks to the Royal Charitable Foundation, affiliated with Royal Bank, for their recent generous donation to our historical society. This is a second donation from this foundation and will help with our expenses. Royal has an interesting slide show on their web site which uses several of our pictures. See: http://www.royalsavingsbank.com/history.html
A reminder to all members. Our dues are increasing effective January 1, 2008. See next story for details. Make sure your dues are up to date so you do not miss any newsletters.
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
Membership InformationWelcome to the following new life members of the Southeast Chicago Historical Society: Jacqueline Mulac, Phyllis Janik, Dr. Harry Hanig, Michael Klem, and Lucy Larsen. This brings the number of life members to well over one hundred. We also have about 115 regular members. If you received a goldenrod reminder with this copy of the newsletter that means that your dues are due. Renew now because our annual dues are going to increase. On January 1, 2008 our regular dues increase to $10 per year and our life membership increases to $100. Until that date dues are $5 for a one year renewal, $75 for a life membership, and our “special deal” 5 years for $20. May I recommend a life membership at $75. It’s a great deal and you will never have to remember to renew your dues again. The benefits of membership were detailed in our last newsletter (July 2007) available at: http://www.neiu.edu/~reseller/sehsnwsl0707.html
You can renew your membership by coming in to the museum or using the form on our web site.
LighthousesThe comforting sounds stemming from the foghorn out on the breakwater at Calumet Park are still with us today although the lighthouse has long disappeared from the area. As a dear friend reminded me, the fog horn is a “sound of home” to many of us who reside on the East Side and of those who have moved away from the area.
In the early years of Chicago‘s history, and as water commerce grew, there was a need for lighthouses for the safety of ships entering the harbors of the Chicago River and Calumet River. The first lighthouse was built at the mouth of the Chicago River in 1832 but due to poor construction and materials it collapsed within two years. Another lighthouse was built in 1893, and was a feature attraction in the Columbian Exposition of 1893. In 1918, it was moved onto a breakwater in Lake Michigan near Navy Pier where it remains today as a landmark and visitors attraction.
In 1851, an appropriation from the federal government gave the go-ahead to begin construction of the first lighthouse for the Calumet Harbor. It was originally located on the banks of the Calumet River where the river met Lake Michigan. A mason contractor by the name of Mr. Irwin arranged to have large pieces of stone shipped by barge from a quarry in Blue Island with the laboring work of bargemen who hand-poled the barge on its journey to the mouth of the Calumet River.
The light was lit for the first time in 1853 by the first lighthouse keeper, A. B. Dalton, who was appointed in 1852. From that time on, nothing but trouble occurred. Ships heading into the Chicago River were confused by the light shining from Calumet Harbor. After numerous protests, the light was extinguished in 1855 and was sold. The building was rented to the Oehmich family for $50 per year who used it for fishing purposes. After two family members along with six seamen were drowned in a gale storm (circa 1870) the United States Government repurchased the lighthouse. Extensive repairs were made and the edifice was put back into service again, and relit by lighthouse keeper Mary Ryan in 1873.
An interesting tidbit of history I discovered in the search for lighthouse history was the first ship to enter the Calumet Harbor was accompanied by James H. Bowen on board the tug “Belle Chase” in 1871.
In 1880, the North Chicago Rolling Mill, later Carnegie Steel / U.S. Steel South Works, purchased 73 acres of land next to the original lighthouse for a new steel mill. The steel company never bought the land where the original lighthouse stood, a small parcel of land just south of the South Slip of the steel mill. It was used as a life saving station until the Coast Guard station opened in Calumet Park. That land is still owned by the U. S. government and currently is being used by the Army Corps of Engineers. The lighthouse was later structured on a pier that was extended out into Lake Michigan at about 91st Street. As U. S. Steel grew to its eventual 576 acres, mostly by filling in the lake, the pier with the lighthouse was extended several times further and further into the lake. It has been extended so far into the lake that the lighthouse is actually in the state of Indiana .
In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an order to dissolve the Bureau of Lighthouses. The lighthouse administration was then placed in the hands of the U. S. Coast Guard. Sadly, many lighthouses were put out of commission and vanished. The Calumet Park life-saving station, U. S. Coast Guard, was built in 1934, and was staffed by two Coast Guardsmen who spent four days at the lighthouse, followed by two days off.
Presently the Coast Guard Station in Calumet Park has a daily staff of 26 guardsmen, with a backup team of 43 active and 30 reservists who stand guard two days (port) on and two days (starboard) off. There was a period of time when the men and their families lived on the base in large buildings, but the program changed and the unit was down-sized in 1995, and refurbished as it stands today and the north end of Calumet beach.
If you stand on the shores of the beach in Calumet Park, you can see the two breakwaters dividing the entrance to the harbor. Each unit has a tower, supplying red and green lights and fog horns as a safety precaution for ships and boats entering the harbor.
While gathering information on lighthouses in our area, I came across a lighthouse dating back thousands of years as the very first lighthouse in the world. Sending out its beacons as early as 280 BC was the Pharos Lighthouse, located in Alexandria, Egypt. It was built in the harbor on the Island known as Pharos and was displayed on Greek Coins between AD 81 and 192. The Pharos was known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World built of stone and towering more than 400 feet.
The building remained, although not in operation until 1323, and by the mid-fourteenth century, it had fallen unto ruin. In 1995, a team of archaeologists located many of the underwater remains of the Pharos in Alexandria’s harbor.
by Gloria Novak
Dr. James LandingRetired UIC geography professor, James Landing, died September 3, 2007. Dr. Landing was an environmentalist and Director of the Lake Calumet Study Committee. He wrote a plan for the Lake Calumet Ecological Park, which is on file at our museum.
Columbus Monument CeremonyOne of Alex Savastano’s final wishes has been realized. On Columbus Day, October 8, a small group of Alex’s friends and family gathered at the Drake Fountain (Columbus Monument) at 92nd and Exchange Avenue to hoist an Italian flag at the city landmark. This was made possible through the efforts of Alex’s family, friends and the alderman’s office.
Southeast Side NewsThe Southeast Side has been in the news recently. The project to straighten Route 41 from Ewing Avenue to 79th Street was scheduled to resume the first week of October. The work will help facilitate the redevelopment of the former South Works site. The project will not be completed until 2011.
Chicago’s only trailer park may disappear. Harbour Point Estates, located in the “Arizona” section of Hegewisch, will disappear as development of the site takes place over the next 20 years. Plans were recently announced to build houses, condos, a mini-mall and new parks. The 130 acre site extends east from Avenue K (yes there is an Avenue K!) To the Indiana border and straddles 134th Street. Construction could begin as soon as next spring with the first homes ready for occupancy by 2009.
The Canadian National Railway has announced plans to purchase the EJ&E Railroad currently owned by U. S. Steel. The EJ&E was the railroad that served the South Works plant of U.S. Steel and ran along the tracks that border Calumet Park. The deal, if approved, will probably take place by mid 2008.
On September 22, at a press conference in Hegewisch, Mayor Daley announced that $2 million will be available for wetland restoration at either Heron Pond (122nd Street west of Torrence Avenue) or at the Hyde Lake Wetlands (126th Place between Torrence and Avenue O). The money is available from the O’Hare Modernization Project for wetland mitigation.
CorrespondenceWe have received some interesting messages and questions from members, newsletter readers and web site visitors. Many have come via e-mail, others by “snail mail.”
Jim Orlando pointed out an error in some technical figures used on our web site regarding the State Line Generating Station. The mistakes have been corrected and some interesting links developed. See: http://www.hammondindiana.com/history/stateline.htm and http://www.pullman-museum.org/cgi-bin/pvm/mainRecordDisplayXML.pl?recordid=11218
A message from the grandson of Henry L. Newhouse pointed out an error on our web site regarding the architect of the former synagogue at 8927 Houston. In attempting to verify the correct information I came across some sources that listed Alfred Alschuler as architect and others that listed Henry L. Newhouse as architect. After careful evaluation of the various sources I have corrected our web site to show Henry L. Newhouse as the architect. This reminded me of the differences between various sources concerning the first name of the founder of Hegewisch. Some gave his name as Achilles and others as Adolph. I am convinced that his name was Adolph and that a local newspaper began to call him Achilles during WW II when Adolph was not a particularly popular name.
We had a recent request for pictures of the Cape Cod, a night spot located at Brainard Avenue and Avenue O. In spite of our huge collection of local photos we do not have any of the Cape Cod. Can any of our readers help us? Other requests for photos which we were unable to fulfill include the Cudahy Meatpacking plant at 92nd and Baltimore, Chicago’s Last Liquor Store and Rigger’s Restaurant. I did come across a postcard image of Rupcich’s Restaurant located at 106th and Indianapolis posted on a web site.
Look for our images to appear in an upcoming documentary about Chicago ethnic foods on Channel 11. We have also had requests for pictures for a book entitled 500 Years of Chicana Women’s History edited by Elizabeth Martinez and by an author working on a book about Chicago’s Polish cathedrals.
IHA Digital ProjectWe are nearing the unveiling of a new web site developed for the Industrial Heritage Archives of Chicago’s Calumet Region (IHA). Over 1000 images from the collections of the Southeast Chicago Historical Society will be accessible through this web site. The images can also be accessed via the Pullman Virtual Museum site (http://www.pullman-museum.org/). See previous newsletters for details on how to access these images. Images will also be available through the Illinois Digital Archives (http://www.idaillinois.org/). Click on “Browse Our Collections” and scroll down to Southeast Chicago Historical Society. Last minute work on the web site will hopefully be ready for a tentative November 9 release.
The IHA Project is a collaboration of Pullman State Historic Site, the Southeast Chicago Historical Society, and the Calumet Heritage Partnership. If you have any question or comments contact email@example.com
Newsletter Editor Rod Sellers
Thursdays 1:00-4:00pm Southeast Chicago Historical Museum
SE Chicago Historical Society Calendar
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. Our 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.
October 13, 2007 8:30am to 1:00 pm 8th Annual CHP Conference
Sponsored by the Calumet Heritage Partnership the theme of the conference is “Beyond Artifacts: The Living Element in Industrial Areas”. The conference will take place at Chicago State University, 9501 S. King Drive in Chicago. Registration fee is $15. A Pullman Factory tour will be conducted from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm. Call Mark Bouman at 773-991-0613 or register on-line at: http://calumetheritage.org/conference/2007registration.html
October 20, 2007 10:30 am to 2:00 pm Chicago Archives Fair
Sponsored by Chicago Area Archivists and the Chicago Metro History Education Center the Archives Fair showcases materials available in local museums, libraries, universities, and historical societies. The fair will be held at the Newberry Library located at 60 W. Walton Street in Chicago. The event is free and open to the public. No pre-registration is necessary. This event should be of particular interest to students doing research or participating in the History Fair. http://www.vandercook.edu/archives/CAAarchivesmonth.htm
November 9, 2007 Industrial Heritage Archives Web Site
Opening of the web site for the Industrial Heritage Archives of Chicago’s Calumet Region. Check our web site for details http://www.neiu.edu/~reseller/sehsevents.html