Holy Ghost Church

Adams and Kildare Streets
Chicago, Illinois

Project Status
Building torn down

Project Date/s
Painted 1920s

In 1896, Holy Ghost Church was organized to serve German Catholics in the Garfield Park neighborhood on the West side of Chicago.  In 1898, the architect Henry Schlacks built a combined church, school, hall and residence building for the parish at Adams and Kildare Streets.  The 50 x 75 foot building was designed to accommodate the parish needs until such a time when a new church could be built, so the combined building used only for a school.  By 1920, the church had 300 families, including 200 children enrolled in the school.  At Sunday mass, there were approximately 2,500 attendees.

In 1924, the Rev. Charles A. Erkenswick was made pastor of the church.  By 1929, the parish was comprised of a number of different nationalities and had become a novena center.  On Good Friday, March 30, 1929, Father Erkenswick was shot by the father of two boys who were in jail for robbing the poor box at the church.  The father was upset that the Rev. Erkenswick refused to seek their release.   Rev. Erkenswick survived the shooting, and remained pastor of the church until his death in 1936.   After his death, an administrator was appointed to the church, which merged with St Mel parish in 1941.

According to Mallin’s brochures, he was hired to decorate Holy Ghost Church by Rev. Erkenswick.   It is not known what year the decorations were done, but it was probably in the mid to late 1920s.  No known photos of the interior decorations exist.  An exterior photo of the building was published in 1903 in a book about Henry Schlacks buildings.

After merging with St Mel parish, the combination building became St Mel-Holy Ghost Chapel, and a new school was completed at 4237 W. Adams.  According to the Chicago Tribune, a new $200,000 school building was built for St Mel’s on the former property of the German church Holy Ghost, which was turned over to St Mels.  It is not clear when the Holy Ghost Combination building was torn down, but it no longer exists.


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 Tribune Aug 22, 1897. Real Estate Review.  Page 34. Henry Schlacks designed a parochial school and chapel building to be built at West Adams and Forty Third Ave for Holy Ghost Parish.  The structure will be 50 X 75 feet and will be two stories and basement high.   The exterior will be of pressed brick and cut stone.  There will be class rooms and an assembly hall.

Chicago Tribune March 30, 1929. Priest shot by thieves’ father is near death.  Page 5.

Chicago Tribune. March 30 1929   Priest shot by thieves father page 5

Chicago Tribune Aug 1 1941 page 83 A new $200,000 school building was built for St Mel’s on the former property of the German church Holy Ghost, which was turned over to St Mels.

Schlacks, HJ.  The work of Henry John Schlacks, ecclesiologist.  Chicago, Published 1903.