Church of the Holy Family
Life Span: 1860-Present
Location: Eleventh, Twelfth and May streets
Architect: Dillenberg and Zucker (exterior), John. M. Van Osdel (interior), John Huber (tower)
Chicago Tribune, July 17, 1860
CHURCH OF THE HOLY FAMILY.
Few of our city reader are aware how noble an edifice has gone up in the south-west quarter of our city, on West Twelfth street, the Church of the Holy Family, erected by the Jesuits. The building was enclosed last season, and the whole is now near completion.
We visited it a day or two since, and pronounce the interior the finest by far in this city, if indeed it has a superior in the United States. Its massive and lofty proportions arising high above the lesser structures in the extreme south-west quarter of the city, kare constituted it a prominent feature of that quarter of our suburbs.
The architect of the edifice is J. M. Van Osdel, Esq., of this city, and no architect could desire a nobler monument to his skill and taste. The vestibule and towers of this Church are now being erected by Messrs. O’Connor & Rushton. Messrs. Donahoe & Meaghan are putting in the pews. The stained glass windows, the ceiling, the fresco and plaster ornaments are some of the finest we ever remember to have seen..
The Church was erected by the Jesuits, and is to be formally dedicated with imposing ceremonies on the 18th of August, at which time the leading Roman Catholic magnates are to be present, Archbishop Hughes among the number. We shall at that time describe the structure more in detail. It will ever be one of the most marked and prominent objects of interest in our city, from its size and costliness.
Chicago Tribune, August 27, 1860
The Church Of the Holy Family.—Formal Dedication.
We have before referred to be splendid structure erected in the southwestern suburbs of the city, the Church of the Holy Family. It is located on West Twelfth street, nearly two miles west of the river, and has been in process of erection for over two years, and is certainly one of the finest edifices of its class in the United States. Originally planned by a Milwaukee architect, it was subsequently, and at an early stage, carried forward to completion by one of our own residents.
Its interior is one of the most elegant we ever remember to have seen, and will comparison certainly with any in the Northwest. It has been built by the order of Jesuits, chiefly through the exertions of Father Damon. The enterprise has received divers handsome donations from persons in this city and abroad, and several of its beautiful stained glass windows bear the names of each donor, as is the Catholic custom. The exterior of the Church from most points is huge and unattractive, and the structure looms above the humble erections of that suburb like a stately ox among so many sheep, but the front of the Church is massive and handsome, in Milwaukee brick, with cut stone trimmings. It is in entire keeping with the rest of the building. In that quarter of the city the Catholics have, purchased large and valuable tracts of land, and will give to the same the outlay of capital in building enterprises which characterizes that denomination. Just north of the Church is the elegant structure of the Seminary of Sacred Heart, the first of a costly pile of building by that wealthy order.
The exercises of formal consecration of the new Church were announced for Sunday, Aug. 26th, (yesterday). The Bishop of this diocese, Rev. Dr. Duggan, officiating, aided by numerous resident Catholic clergy, and Bishop Fitzpatrick of Boston, and other high church functionaries from abroad, to assist in the ceremonies. The occasion was thus made one of much interest and importance to the entire Catholic community.
Chicago Illustrated, March, 1866
On Twelfth Street, between Blue Island avenue and May street, in the West Division, is located the “Church of the Holy Family,” which is under the pastoral charge of reverend fathers who are members of the “Society of Jesus.” It has the largest congregation of any church in Chicago. The building is eighty-five feet front, and two hundred and six feet deep;—in the transept it is one hundred and twenty-five feet wide. The grand auditorium occupies the whole interior of the building, and is sixty-one feet high. Under this is a basement, handsomely fitted up, and contains a chapel for the use of the various sodalities attached to the church, and for the special instruction of candidates for first communion and confirmation.
The architecture is very Gothic, and the building presents a massive and imposing appearance. It is built of Illinois cut stone. Dillenberg and Zucker were the architects of the building, and John Van Osdell of the interior. The interior is very fine. The proportions of the building was so large that there is a fine field for the display of ornament and good taste. The walls and pillars are of a French-gray tint. The church is cruciform in shape, having a nave, two aisles, and a trumpet. At either end of the transept are two grand painted windows. The windows, which are all of stained glass, in the main body of the church, in the transept, and around the altar, produce an effect that must be seen to be appreciated.
The vaulted roof is supported by massive columns, which, however objectionable they may be as obstructions to the grand view, are none the less appropriate as part of the general style of the building. At the north end is the grand altar, and on either side are the altars of Mary and Joseph.
The sanctuary is larger and more convenient that that of any other church in this city, admitting, on the occasion of the grand festivals of the church, large numbers of prelates and assistants, without in any way obstructing the view of the grand ceremonies of the altar.
The site was purchased and the building commenced in August, 1857, and the church was solemnly dedicated in August, 1860. Six of the Roman Catholic bishops of the country were present, and participated in the grand services on that occasion. In 1865, the church was furnished with a new altar, built by Anthony Bucher, of Chicago, and on the 15th of October, 1865, this altar was dedicated with grand ceremonies to its sacred uses. The extraordinary beauty, the immense size, and the elaborate design of the altar, would if fully described, fill a respectable volume. Like the other interior furnishing of this church, this magnificent altar should be seen; no mere words will convey a true idea of its splendor.
The building immediately west of the church was erected in 1862, as a residence for the clergymen and brothers of the Order. In 1864, Father Damen built, a few blocks east of the church, a school for the boys. The building is very large, is finished and furnished in the most approved style, and has twelve hundred boys attending it. The teachers are, of course, members of the Order. A school for the girls of the congregation is at the Convent. a few blocks west. The congregation is, as we have said, the largest, by many thousands, in Chicago.
Belonging to the church are several lay societies, each counting its members by the thousand. The principal of these are—the Sodality for Males, Sodality for Young Ladies, and St. Ann’s Sodality for Married Ladies; there is also an acolytical and literary society of young men.
The Reverend A. Damen is the Hercules who has in a few years wrought all this work. To his energy, his ability, his sanctity, his perseverance, and his great practical intelligence is due not only the erection of this magnificent edifice, but the great spiritual success which has crowned the labors of the society. With him, and all actively engaged in the arduous labors of the parish, are Reverend Father Di Blieck, Reverend D. Niederkorn, Reverend Andrew O’Neill, Reverend Michael Lawler, Reverend C. F. Smarius, Reverend Florentine Boudreaux and Reverend James Van Goch. Four of these gentlemen are constantly engaged in giving missions throughout the United States.
The massive work of the church was done by Reid and Sherwin, and the carpenter’s work by M. Donahue. The description of the building is not given herein as fully as it would have been, because on the first of May the towers and whole front are to be taken down, and the church extended thirty feet, and some other alterations will be made at the same time. It will then, in its new proportions, be a really splendid structure.
James W. Sheehan, Esq.,
Chicago Tribune, August 28, 1874
HOLY FAMILY CHURCH.
Tho Holy Family Cathedral, near the corner of Twelfth street and Blue Island avenue, is perhaps the largest and most costly church in the city. Not satisfied with this, it seems destined to have tho tallest spire. To this end, the erection of a spire upon tho B0-foot tower of the church is now in progress. The spire is fashioned somewhat after the architecture of the church, and when completed will stand 275 feet above the ground. It will be surmounted by a gilded iron cross, Tho first 128 feet of the tower and spire is square, and the residue octagon. An idea of the size of the structure may be gained from tho statement that its building will consume 100,000 feet of timber, 20 tons of wrought-iron straps and bolts, 2½ tons of cast-iron shoes for braces, and 40 tons of cut-stone, to say nothing of the galvanized iron to bo used in covering it. It is estimated that 150 tons of material will be used in its construction. It will cost about $18,000, and is expected to be completed by Oct. 1. Mr. J. P. Huber is the architect, and J. P. Tracy the contractor, both of this city. The corner-stone of the church was laid Aug. 26, 1857, and the church was dedicated three years later. The building of the spire at this time is only the completion of the original design. The church has already cost for building and furniture, about $350,000. When completed, with its thirty-two chime bolls, it will have cost not less than $425,000, which, we believe, is more money than is invested in any other city church. The church contains the its original pastor, the Rev. Father Damen, who estimates that 18,000 persons attend service there every Sunday,—or more than attend any fifteen Protestant churches in the city. The attendance of children alone upon.
The children’s Sunday-service is estimated ut 4,000. The church never was im a more flourishing codition,
Church of the Holy Family
Holy Family Church, St. Ignatius College, Sociality Hall, and Other Structures.
Church of The Holy Family
Robinson Fire Insurance Map