St. Willibrord Church
11406 S. Edbrooke Ave
Decoration date: 1926
Church status: Closed
In 1900, Dutch immigrants on the far south side of Chicago Roseland neighborhood requested and received permission to create the Dutch parish of St. Willibrord, the only Dutch parish in Chicago. Archbishop Patrick Feehan arranged for the purchase of St. Louis de France church on Edbrooke Ave to house the new church.
Rev. John A Van Heertum, O. Praem was named pastor of the church in 1913 and remained pastor until his death in 1939. Rev. Van Heertum added a new sanctuary and nave, and acquired new stained glass windows and a pipe organ for the church. In 1925, Rev. Van Heertum hired John Mallin to decorate the church, at a cost of $6,050. Some of the work described in Mallin’s contract include the decoration of the sanctuary, church, vestibule, sacristies and other work. A description of the decorations in Mallin’s brochure states that “The ceiling is divided into fields and decorated in Romanesque ornaments and Apostles. The walls are blended in three shades of color and stippled, and decorated with a border and emblems. The Sanctuary ceiling and walls are painted in Italian Renaissance and emblems which were done by free hand in highlights and shades. Main arch is decorated with group of angels on each side of the sanctuary.”
During the early 1970s, the church began ministering to the black and Hispanic Catholics who had moved into the neighborhood. In 1973, four other churches in the Roseland area were consolidated into All Saints parish, including All Saints, Holy Rosary, St. Louis of France, and St Nicholas. St. Willibrord remained open until 1988, when there were fewer than 100 parishioners. The Church currently houses the Ada S. Mckinley Head Start Child Development center. It is not known if any of the decorations remain.
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.
Marx, Gary. Churches may shut, community doesn’t. Chicago Tribune January 29, 1990.
Swierenga Robert P. Dutch Chicago. A History of the Hollanders in the Windy City Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Grand Rapids MI. 2002.