Cuneo Hospital Chapel

Project Name
Cuneo Hospital Chapel

Location
750 W. Montrose
Chicago, Illinois

Project Status
Demolished in 2017

Project Date/s
1962

Cuneo Mansion
Cuneo Apartment

Lakeview Hospital, at the corner of Clarendon and Agatite streets in Chicago, was built in 1910. It was sold in 1939 due to financial difficulties, and was taken over by the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Frank Cuneo, a religious and wealthy business man, helped the hospital financially, and so the hospital was renamed after him. It became a charity maternity hospital in honor of his first wife Amelia who died in childbirth. A new Cuneo hospital opened in July of 1942. In this year, some decoration of the hospital was done by Mallin’s workers, according to his worker time sheets. It may have been for a chapel or some other unknown decoration. This would have been at the same time that Mallin was decorating the chapel at the Cuneo residence in Libertyville.

Hospital Chapel Postcard

The hospital expanded in the 1950s and a second building was erected. The new Frank Cuneo Memorial Hospital in Chicago opened in 1957, designed by architect Edo J. Belli as a modernist hospital. The new hospital connected to the existing hospital with a skybridge over Clarendon Avenue. The new hospital, still run by the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, was dedicated in 1957 by Cardinal Samuel Stritch. The hospital was originally endowed by Frank Cuneo and then by his son John F. Cuneo Sr. According to the website Preservation Chicago, ‘Belli combined lyricism with modern materials to create his own architectural style, one that departed ever so slightly from the rigid ‘Miesian’ orthodoxy that dominated architectural expression at that time. Similar in design and execution, a visit to the chapel at St. Joseph Hospital provides at hint at what the original interior was like.” The site also states that John Mallin contributed murals to Belli’s hospital projects.

Mallin decorated the chapel at Cuneo hospital in 1962. A letter from the Sacred Heart Sisters mentions how they missed him at the function (probably the inauguration of the Chapel). Photos on this website also show Mallin at work in the chapel in 1962.

In the 1970s the original 1910 hospital was demolished and a new addition also designed by Belli was built and connected by a skybridge to the existing Belli hospital.

In July of 1988 Cuneo hospital was closed and converted to a children’s shelter. The building later became vacant and deteriorated. A redevelopment plan for the hospital was killed by community opposition in 2012. The community group Friends of Cuneo tried to save the building for reuse.

From the Friends of Cuneo Facebook page, “A great irony not lost on many this week is that the hospital was given to Mother Cabrini’s religious order by a wealthy Republican real estate developer who dedicated it to the memory of his wife who had died in childbirth 50 years before—just a few years after his namesake toddler son Frank Cuneo. The only things upon which he insisted in return for the gift? That there at all times be a hospital there with 20% of its beds reserved for charity cases, for women and children if desired, that the hospital not be used for carrying on propaganda or otherwise attempting to influence legislation, and that the hospital would be known at all times as the “Frank Cuneo Hospital.”

The attempt to save the building was not successful, and the demolition of the hospital began on January 20, 2017, and is now complete. No information is available as to the status of the chapel artwork or murals, which may have been removed to places unknown, or completely destroyed. Two high rises will be built on the hospital site, with less than 4% affordable housing units.

References

Cuneo Hospital 2012 Chicago 7
https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfCuneo/
Flashback Friday- Maryville before Mid-Century Modern. Dec 4 2015.