St. Boniface history

The website saintbonifaceinfo.com makes the case for preservation with text from the East Village Association newsletter of December 1998. An excerpt:

Rising majestically from its corner location, St. Boniface stands guard over Eckhart Park as it has for almost 100 years. It was constructed in 1902-04 and designed by architect Henry J. Schlacks. The park itself acts as the church’s forecourt and thereby creates its northern wall. Viewed across the park from the south, the full dimension of this important structure becomes apparent. Rendered in a solid Romanesque style, the church and its adjacent school building dominate the block on which they sit.

The church is defined by its three soaring bell towers; their steeply pitched clay tile roofs provide an instantly recognizable symbol for the surrounding neighborhood and are visible for miles around. The base is made of rusticated ashlar block intersected by canted buttresses that extend down to the sidewalk. Its brick exterior is in excellent condition with no significant cracking or mortar loss. Detailing includes arcades, as well as intact rose window frames although their stained glass has long since been removed.

St. Boniface Church was established for German immigrants in 1865. With roots in Chicago history that predate the great Chicago Fire of 1871, St. Boniface played an integral role in helping to reshape and rebuild its neighborhood and city by providing makeshift housing within the church buildings as well as clothing and meals for people whose homes had been destroyed in the conflagration.

St. Boniface was an early commission in Schlacks’ career. The current building replaced the church’s original wooden structure in 1903. Father Evers, the parish priest, spearheaded an effort to condemn the 10 acres adjacent to the church, which is now Eckhart Park.

St. Boniface is colored-coded orange in the Commission on Chicago Landmarks Historic Resources Survey: “…a structure possessing historical and architectural distinction in the context of the immediate community.”

M. Isaacson

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