St. George Catholic Church
39th St and Wentworth
Decoration Date: 1926
Building Status: Demolished in 1969
St. George parish was founded in 1884 to serve German Catholics near the Union Stock Yards, which were at the time at the southernmost edge of the City of Chicago. In 1893, a church was constructed on Wentworth and 39th Street, made of brick and stone trimmings, with dimensions of 71 x 147 feet and a seating capacity of 800 on the main floor and 150 in the gallery. The front was to be pressed brick with blue Bedford stone trimmings. The main tower was 165 feet high and the second tower 110 feet high. The ceremony for the laying of the cornerstone in 1891 attracted 7,000 people.
In 1909, the Rev. Bernard F. Springmeier was named pastor of the church. By 1918, the church was no longer predominantly German Catholic. In 1926, Rev. Springmeier hired John Mallin to decorate the church. According to Mallin’s contract, he was to do the painting, decorating, wood finishing and mural painting of the interior of St. George’s church at 3924 Wentworth, for the sum of $11,500. Work was to be started in March of 1926 and fully completed by June of 1926. Two black and white photos of the altar and interior of the church in 1926 show the details of the decorations, and another shows a painting of St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music. A similar painting of St. Cecilia done by Mallin is displayed on the organ front of St. Ignatius church in Chicago.
In the 1950s, many houses east of Wentworth were torn down to make room for the Dan Ryan Expressway. St. George was spared from demolition at that time. However, by the 1960s, enrollment in the parish school and church declined. In 1969, the national parish of St George was consolidated with the territorial parish of St. Cecilia. In that year the last mass was said at St. George and demolition of the parish buildings began.
“The New St George’s Church.” Chicago Tribune. Page 2. July 19, 1891.
“With Impressive ceremonies. Archbishop Feehan lays the corner stone of St. George’s church. “Chicago Tribune. Page 5. Sept 7, 1891.
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.