Visitation Church

(Currently known as St. Basil Visitation Church)

843 W. Garfield Blvd
Chicago, Illinois

Project Status
Church open; Mallin decorations mostly gone.

Project Date/s

Visitation church was organized in 1886 as a predominantly Irish parish on the south side of Chicago, in what is now known as the Englewood/Back of the Yards neighborhood.   It became one of the largest churches in the Chicago area and one of the leading English speaking churches in the Chicago Archdiocese.  The church moved locations three times in order to serve the increasing number of Irish families belonging to the parish.

The current church was dedicated in November of 1899 on the corner of Garfield Blvd and Peoria street, at a cost of $90,000.  With the formation of nearby St Basil church in 1904, Loomis Blvd was set as the western boundary of Visitation.  In 1925, the Visitation Catholic School had the second highest English speaking enrollment among Chicago Catholic parishes.

In June of 1932, the Very Rev. Msgr. Daniel Byrnes was appointed pastor of the church.  In 1946, Father Byrnes hired John Mallin to decorate the church.   Mallin’s bank book shows deposits from Visitation church between 1946 and 1948 for a total of $33,000.

As black families moved into the area in the 1960s, outbreaks of racial violence broke out.  White families began to move out of the neighborhood, and in the early 1970s, the parish community was predominantly black.  In 1990, after nearby St. Basil was closed and eventually torn down, the two parishes merged into what is now called St. Basil Visitation Church.  The church parishioners are now predominantly black and Hispanic.

Almost all of the Mallin decorations have been removed, except for some angels on the ceiling of the sanctuary and church.


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.