Friday, March 5, 2010

The Bells of St. Michael's

Like so many places of geographic merit, the exact boundaries and limits of Old Town are often in dispute, ask 3 residents of old town, and you're likely to get 3 different answers, and ask 3 outsiders, and you'll get another 3 unique answers.  The adage of the neighborhood has long been "If you can hear the bells of St. Michael's, you are in old town".  Unfortunately, even this simple definition can lead to disputes among the many elderly residents, who, though well meaning are perhaps deficient of hearing at times.  The adage does lead to one indisputable truth, St. Michael's church itself, is within Old Town, and as such, it makes a fitting place to begin my discussion of this wonderful, historic neighborhood.

St. Michael's church, located at the intersection of Eugenie Street and Cleveland Avenue was constructed in 1869, only two years prior to the great Chicago fire of 1871.  The fire claimed the lives of hundreds, and destroyed virtually every building in a four square mile path through the heart of Chicago,   but it did not claim St. Michael's as one of its victims.  The Church not only survived, but in fact stood tall, as the tallest building in Chicago until 1885, when its height was surpassed by the now demolished, original Chicago Board of Trade.

The Roman Cathloic St. Michael's church has operated continuously since its construction and has become an architectural icon of the Old Town Neighborhood.

Prominently located in the Neighborhood, the beautiful masonry Church commands immediate attention.  The church is decorative and strong, while not exceptionally adorned, it does possess a collection of German stain glass windows.

Two statues of St. Michael, the Archangel, are present, one is in the plaza in front of the church, while another towers high over the entrance of the church brandishing his famous sword in defiance of the devil and any who might challenge him with evil.

The steeple is placed asymmetrically on the plan, of the building, over the northwest corner of the building, or left hand side when viewed facing the main entrance.  The steeple can be spotted from all cardinal directions as it towers over the surrounding neighborhood.

In the present, the church maintains its strong connection and commitment to the neighborhood, by hosting an annual, music festival that coincides with the neighborhoods larger Old Town and Well street art fairs.

No comments:

Post a Comment