St. John Berchman
St. John Berchman Church
2511 W. Logan Blvd.
Church is open, but all Mallin's work is gone.
St John Berchmans church was first organized 1903 to serve a predominantly Belgian parish in the Logan Square neighborhood on the northwest side of Chicago. The first resident pastor, Rev. Julius E. DeVos, was a native of Belgium. Architect J.G. Steinbach created a Spanish Romanesque style church, which was located on the corner of Logan Boulevard and Maplewood Avenue. The church was dedicated in December, 1907. By 1927, the Belgians had scattered throughout the city, and the church became a “cosmopolitan” parish, but the Belgians still used it as their national headquarters.
In 1927, Rev. L.P. Hurkmans was named pastor of the church. By this time, the church included a variety of ethnic groups, including Polish, Irish, German and Italian, in addition to the remaining Belgians. The church celebrated its Silver Jubilee in 1932, and in 1934 the church interiors were redecorated by Mallin. A black and white photo of the Sanctuary during the redecoration shows Mallin’s son, John Oswald Mallin, and another worker on the scaffolding. One of the stained glass windows shown in the photo behind Mallin’s son has the name Peter Van Eenaeme inscribed. He or his family may have contributed money to the church. A grave with Peter Van Eenaeme’s name is in Saint Boniface Cemetery in Chicago, and his Belgian birthplace is mentioned. This may be the individual whose name is engraved on the stained glass.
A black and white photo provided by the church and the Logan Square Preservation organization gives some indication of what the church looked like after the Mallin decorations. The photo is circa 1940 and shows the same stenciling and stained glass in the Sanctuary that is in the original Mallin photo from 1934.
In the 1940s, the church purchased property behind the church and sanctuary. The houses behind the church were eventually demolished, and in 1949 the church was lengthened, and in the process, the Mallin decorations in the sanctuary and elsewhere were demolished. There are no Mallin decorations remaining in the church, which still has an active parish.
In the 1990s an architect working with the Logan Square Preservation Society found remnants of a stencil in the church when he was looking at the church for a restoration project. The stencil may be from the 1934 Mallin decorations.
St John Berchmans Centennial Book, 1905-2005.
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.
Andrew Schneider. President, Logan Square Preservation, Chicago.