Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sentimental Sunday: Fire at St. Nicholas

from Chicago Daily Tribune, February 4, 1898
As noted in an earlier post, the original St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Evanston, Illinois, burned down February 3, 1898.  Construction began on a new church building in 1904, with completion in 1906.
Where did the parish meet in between?

Alan Kozlowski, who is involved with the parish's 125th anniversary this year, send me the article at left (and a more detailed article from the February 5, 1898, Evanston Index) as well as the picture below, as well as the following information from the parish's 50th anniversary book:

Temporary Accommodations 
Now again the flock was homeless. Again Mass was said in a hall, this time in Burden's store, on the north side of Main Street between Sherman and Custer. Father Biermann moved temporarily to a building owned by Mr. Risch, at 832 Custer Avenue. After a week school was reopened in Burden's store. 

Father Hugh P. Smyth of St. Mary's [Catholic Church, also in Evanston,] with the generous cooperation and sympathy that was characteristic of his entire life, at once offered Father Biermann the use of his church. One Mass was thereafter said at Burden's store, and one at St. Mary's.  

The New School 
Father Biermann's first thought after the fire was to restore school facilities. The first building to be erected after the fire was a four room school building with a basement hall. It was completed the year of the fire [1898] and the hall served as the church until 1905.

Above is a photo Alan Kozlowski sent of the school basement hall that served as the church from sometime after February 1898 to sometime in 1905. It looks like it is decorated for a special occasion - perhaps First Communion, or a wedding?

My great uncle Otto Richard "Dick" Pape may have been baptized in the hall picture above, as that event occurred on November 13, 1898.  Based on other church records, it's possible that some of his siblings had their First Communions or were confirmed in this building, and that their first cousin Hugo Pape was married in this hall.

Below is a photo sent by Jim Heckenbach (a descendant of the Didiers, a founding family of the parish).  It's a picture of students at St. Nicholas School in 1899, so this must be the new school/basement church hall referred to above, built in 1898.  I love some of the little details in this photo:  the potted plants on the windowsills, the USA flag with 46 stars, the boy in the top row blowing a horn, the row of boys with drums, the crooked sign, and the bicycles!  Perhaps the priest on the left is Father Biermann; the nun might be Sister Justine.

I don't recognize any of my Pape kin in this photograph.  It's possible the John Pape family had already moved to Chicago by this point (where they were definitely living in 1900, according to the Census and to youngest son Walter's baptismal record).


© Amanda Pape - 2012 - click here to e-mail me.

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