St. Jerome Catholic Church
St. Jerome Catholic Church
1709 W. Lunt Ave.
1931 and 1934
St. Jerome church was established on the far North Side of Chicago in 1893, when a store was converted into a temporary chapel. A small wooden church was later constructed in November of 1893 at the corner of Morse Ave and Paulina Street. St. Jerome was officially recognized as a parish in 1895. It served English speaking Catholics in the north side of Chicago as well as the suburb of Evanston to the north.
The present church was built in 1914 under the leadership of the Rev. Thomas F. Ferrell, and designed by the architect Charles H. Prindiville. Mallin decorated the interiors in 1931. A detailed description of the artwork is included in the parish bulletin included on this website. “Quietly and efficiently Mr. John A. Mallin and his workers, who did the work of decoration, have accomplished an artistic production and one that will give a greater reputation to the firm. Describing the ceiling, “On the east side is a picture in which Michael Angelo presents to the Holy Father a first draught of the new St. Peter’s. On the west side, Palestrina the famous musical composer is depicted as presenting a musical score to Julius II.” Also, ‘It is doubtful you will find better work outside of an art museum in any building, churchly or public.” The nearly 40 foot wide painting over the sanctuary “represents the world of man adoring the Blessed Sacrament. In the picture we see a king and a queen, the heads of a city, the members of a family, the sick and infirm, sisters of mercy, a priest and a bishop, all in adoration of the wonderful doctrine, presence of Our Lord in the Sacrament. “
The bulletin goes on to describe other paintings throughout the church. The concluding paragraph is effusive in its praise, stating, “I think we can say that no other Church in Chicago, can compare with it in beauty, design or artistry. …we are sincerely grateful to Mr. Mallin of John A. Mallin decorating company for his thoughtful care and attention in making St Jerome what it now is.” Other churches reportedly tried to compete with the St Jerome decorations by hiring Mallin to decorate their churches (for example, St. Edmund in Oak Park).
In order to relieve overcrowding, in 1934, an addition to the church was added by the architect Joe W. McCarthy, which included enlarging the sanctuary and constructing three large marble altars. Mallin sent a bid to Mr. McCarthy which included the costs of cleaning, restoration as well as decorations for the new addition. Mallin also did some unspecified work at St. Jerome’s in 1945-1946 according to his bank book records, which may have involved cleaning and/or restoration.
In the book Chicago Interiors, David Lowe describes St Jerome’s: “With its dazzling display of marbles, its walls of gold mosaic, its heroic paintings, and its carved gold leaf ceiling, St Jerome’s would not be out of place in Rome.”
The decorations are still intact, and the church has an active parish of many ethnicities including Hispanic.
A History of the Parishes of the Archdiocese of Chicago Volume 1. Msgr. Harry C. Koenig, S.T.D., editor. The Archdiocese of Chicago, Chicago, 1980.
Chicago Interiors, Views of a Splendid World. David Lowe. Wings Books, New Jersey. 1995.