St. Stanislaus Kostka Church (Chicago)

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St. Stanislaus Kostka
St. Stanislaus Kostka Church Chicago.jpg
St. Stanislaus Kostka Church is located in Central Chicago
St. Stanislaus Kostka Church
St. Stanislaus Kostka
Coordinates: 41°54′21.4″N 87°39′44.7″W / 41.905944°N 87.662417°W / 41.905944; -87.662417
DenominationRoman Catholic Church
Founded1867 (1867)
Founder(s)Polish immigrants
DedicationSt. Stanislaus Kostka
DedicatedJune 18, 1871 (1871-06-18)
current church - July 10, 1881 (1881-07-10)
Functional statusActive
Heritage designationFor Polish immigrants
Architect(s)Patrick Keely
Architectural typeChurch
StylePolish Cathedral style
GroundbreakingJuly 1, 1877 (1877-07-01) - current church
CompletedJuly 10, 1881 (1881-07-10) - current church

The St. Stanislaus Kostka Church (pol. Kościół Świętego Stanisława Kostki) is a historic church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago located at 1351 West Evergreen Avenue in the Pulaski Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois.

St. Stanislaus Kostka Church is the 'mother church' of all other Polish churches in the Archdiocese of Chicago and it is open 24/7.

It is a prime example of the so-called 'Polish Cathedral style' of churches in both its opulence and grand scale. Along with the Basilica of St. Hyacinth, St. Mary of the Angels, and St. Hedwig's, it is one of the many monumental Polish churches visible from the Kennedy Expressway.


St. Stanislaus Kostka Church was founded in 1867 as the first Polish parish in Chicago. Because the Resurrectionist Order has administered the Parish since 1869 and later founded many other Polish parishes in the city, St. Stanislaus Kostka is often referred to as the "mother church" of Chicago's Polish community. Antoni Smagorzewski-Schermann (the first permanent Polish resident of Chicago) was one of the key founders of St. Stanilaus-Kostka Church and was named the first president of the church.[1] Smagorzewski-Schermann also donated some of his own land for the church building site.

The original church building survived the Great Chicago Fire but was demolished to make way for the present church. The current church, located on the southeast corner of Noble and Evergreen Streets, was built between 1871 and 1881 by noted Irish Roman Catholic ecclesiastical architect Patrick Charles Keely of Brooklyn, New York.[2] At the end of the 19th century, it was one of the largest parishes not only in the city but in the whole country with over 35,000 parishioners in 1908.

Along with Holy Trinity Polish Mission, St. Stanislaus Kostka was the center of Chicago's Polish Downtown giving rise to one of the neighborhood's former nickname of "Kostkaville".[3] Much of this was due to Saint Stanislaus Kostka's first pastor, Reverend Vincent Michael Barzynski, who is described as “one of the greatest organizers of Polish immigrants in Chicago and America”.[4] Barzynski was responsible, in one way or another, for founding 23 Polish parishes in Chicago, along with six elementary schools, two high schools, a college, orphanages, newspapers, and St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital, as well as the national headquarters of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America.[4]

As a cultural node for Chicago's Polish Community, the church has hosted elected officials from Poland and the United States, such as Woodrow Wilson and Małgorzata Gosiewska.

The church lost one of its two belfries that was "so reminiscent of Kraków or Łódź from a lightning strike in 1970".[2] The church was slated to be demolished to construct the Kennedy Expressway, but thanks to intense efforts by Chicago Polonia in the late 1950s, the planned right-of-way was shifted east making demolition unnecessary. The parish remained predominately Polish through most of the 20th century, but since the 1970s, it has gained a significant number of Latino parishioners. Masses are now celebrated in English, Polish and Spanish.


The church was completed in 1881 and designed by Patrick Keely of Brooklyn, also architect of Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral. The building's Renaissance Revival style recalls the glory days of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 16th century. It is constructed of yellow brick with limestone accents with interior measurements of 200 ft (61 m) in length and 80 ft (24 m) in width, allowing seating for 1500. The painting above the altar by Tadeusz Żukotyński depicts Our Lady placing the infant Jesus in the arms of St. Stanislaus Kostka. Żukotyński, who came to Chicago in 1888, was considered one of Europe's foremost painters of religious subjects. Other artistic treasures in the church include the Stained glass windows by F.X. Zettler of the Royal Bavarian Institute in Munich and the chandeliers in the nave by the studios of Louis Comfort Tiffany. The southern cupola was destroyed by lightning in 1964, and the northern cupola was rebuilt with a more simplified profile in 2002.

In addition to the church, the two-block physical plant of the Saint Stanislaus Kostka Parish complex contained a large performance hall, a convent and rectory, a gymnasium and a two-year commercial school for girls, staffed by the School Sisters of Notre Dame. In 1906, a fire destroyed the school and convent, as well as an auditorium that was under construction. Two years later, the school had been rebuilt with 54 classrooms and three meeting halls, making it the largest elementary school in all of the United States when it opened in 1908. The complex also includes a modernist-style 1959 school building designed by Belli & Belli of Chicago.[5]

St. Stanislaus Kostka is the future home of the planned Sanctuary of The Divine Mercy. The sanctuary will have an adoration chapel and outdoor prayer garden enclosed by a surrounding wall of stone to help define the space as sacred. Within the enclosure, there will be no liturgies or vocal prayers, either by individuals or groups. The space is strictly meant for private meditation and contemplation. Various religious iconography will be found in the Sanctuary of The Divine Mercy. At the heart of the chapel will be the Iconic Monstrance of Our Lady of the Sign which will be the focus of 24-hour Eucharistic adoration. The new sanctuary is designed by McCrery Architects of Washington, D.C.[6]

In September 2011, the parish began a fundraising campaign to complete needed repairs. The work will correct structural deficiencies, repair pews, restore decorative paintings and glass, install flooring and upgrade electrical and sound systems and will be completed in phases. The total budget is expected to cost $4.4 million.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rodziny, Polish Genealogical Society Newsletter [Fall 1986] p. 29.
  2. ^ a b Lowe, David (1 October 2010). Lost Chicago. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 251. ISBN 978-0226494326.
  3. ^ Braun, Stephen (4 June 1994). "The Ways and Means Chief of Kostkaville : Politics: It's all the little things that 'Danny' Rostenkowski does for the 5th District that make his neighborhood so loyal". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
  4. ^ a b Bayne, Martha (8 May 2008). "A Tale of Two Villages". Chicago Reader. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
  5. ^ Sinkevitch, Alice; Petersen, Laurie McGovern, eds. (12 April 2004). AIA Guide to Chicago (2nd ed.). Orlando: Harcourt. p. 262. ISBN 978-0156029087. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
  6. ^ "Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy". McCrery Architects. Retrieved 2013-10-30.
  7. ^ "Repair and Restoration". St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish. Archived from the original on 2012-10-14. Retrieved 2013-10-28.

Further reading[edit]

  • Howe, Jeffery (2003). Houses of Worship: An Identification Guide to the History and Styles of American religious Architecture. Thunder Bay Press.
  • Johnson, Elizabeth (1999). Chicago Churches: A Photographic Essay. Uppercase Books Inc.
  • Kantowicz, Edward R. (2007). The Archdiocese of Chicago: A Journey of Faith. Booklink.
  • Kociolek, Jacek (2002). Kościoły Polskie w Chicago {Polish Churches of Chicago} (in Polish). Ex Libris.
  • Lane, George A. (1982). Chicago Churches and Synagogues: An Architectural Pilgrimage. Loyola Press.
  • McNamara, Denis R. (2005). Heavenly City: The Architectural Tradition of Catholic Chicago. Liturgy Training Publications.
  • Schulze, Franz; Harrington, Kevin (2003). Chicago's Famous Buildings. University Of Chicago Press.

External links[edit]