St. Michael's Church, Old Town, Chicago

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Coordinates: 41°54′44″N 87°38′23″W / 41.9123°N 87.6397°W / 41.9123; -87.6397

View of the front of St. Michael's Church

St. Michael's Church in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago is a Roman Catholic church staffed by the Redemptorist order of priests. The parish was founded to minister to German Catholic immigrants in 1852 with its first wooden church completed that year at a cost of $750 (including the bell), the building stands at the intersection of Eugenie Street and Cleveland Avenue. The church was built as a haven for German immigrants who were outcasts in Old Chicago; in addition, the town's main church, St. Joseph's Church, was overcrowded, the Redemptorists were invited to administer the parish in 1860 and a large brick church was finished in 1869.[1] When completed, its tower made it the tallest building in Chicago, a distinction it held until the old Chicago Board of Trade Building was completed in 1885.[2]


The church was one of six buildings to 'survive' the path of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, albeit heavily damaged. While most of Old Chicago's infrastructure was made of wood, the church was made of brick which helped it survive the fire.[3] Portions of the building survived—the stone walls of St. Michael's being the only structures standing in the Old Town area, the church was quickly rebuilt.

There is a saying in Chicago that if you can hear the bells of St. Michael's, you are in Old Town.[4]

St.Michaels Church (center) in Old Town in 2015. Many claims state that hearing distance from its bells indicate the borders of Old Town[5][6]

When Mayor Richard J. Daley's urban renewal program began, it was the Old Town Triangle Organization of the Lincoln Park Conservation Association that took the lead in promoting urban renewal. St. Michael's like many other neighborhood institutions took advantage of the program to rehab and to expand.


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  1. ^ "St. Michael in Old Town: History". Archived from the original on 2008-02-03. Retrieved 2007-09-09. 
  2. ^ "St. Michael's Church". Retrieved 2008-06-20. 
  3. ^ "Old Town- St. Michael Church". Retrieved 2009-10-21. [permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Old Town". Retrieved 17 September 2017. 
  5. ^ "Old Town". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved 26 March 2015. 
  6. ^ "Old Town: Gold Rush in a Cabbage Patch (December 4, 1967)". Retrieved 17 September 2017.