September 12, 2007

Buena Memorial Presbyterian Church, Buena Park, Uptown Chicago

When the roof of Buena Memorial Presbyterian Church collapsed in 1996, it was the beginning of the end. Years of neglect and deferred maintenance had taken their toll, and the century-or-so-old church was to be demolished.

Buena Memorial was located at 4247-4301 N. Sheridan Rd., near Montrose and Broadway, on that little peninsula-like piece of land where The Mark condos now stand.

Additional photos of the interior—including closeups of the collapsed roof—can be seen at King Richard's Religious Artifacts, the company responsible for the salvage operation. Fortunately, a great deal of the stained glass and other fixtures were saved.

A very depressing photo of the final destruction can be seen at Midwest Wrecking.

21 comments:

Bialynia said...

Well that was certainly depressing, I had no idea such a grand church had stood a mere ten years ago in that space.

Green Fairy said...

I know--it was already gone before I moved to the neighborhood, and I still mourn its loss.

Jeff said...

I LOVE this blog. Thank you so much.

"Buena Jeff"

Green Fairy said...

Buena Jeff: Thanks for the kind words!

maria said...

helen let this one slip - she wanted to make it into an homeless shelter and was working with 4th Presbyterian church on michigan ave to have them fund the shelter - this is one time the community was able to stop her silliness but she got the last laugh by letting the building be demolished and a rich politicial contributor get the land and build the god awful building

Judy said...

I grew up in this church. I loved it so much, and it was a beautiful church to be in and all the people in this church were very loving and caring people. I was thankful to be part of this beautiful church. My sister and I were lucky to be there the day the church was being taken down. We talked to the construction crew and they let us go in to collect some souveneirs. I was so sad to see all the drugs on the ground when we went inside. I could not imagine the church being abused this way,it had so much life inside. I am thankful to have all the great memories of this church. I have the original blueprints as well. I miss this church still today. Judy

Green Fairy said...

Judy--Thanks for sharing your memories! Would you be willing to make a copy of the original blueprints to share here? There are so many people who would be interested to see them. E-mail me at blog@compassrose.com if you get the chance. Thanks!

susan said...

Hey Green Fairy,

My name is Susan I'm Judy's sister. We had no idea what we were walking into when we visited the site of Buena on it's final demolition day. Our family has a big history there. When our parents moved to Chicago in "62 from Ohio, They lived on Kenmore and montrose, they saw Buena and gave it a try. They loved it immediately. There were so many cool things about how it felt just to walk into the big sanctuary. Giant wooden doors that were from my perspective 50 ft high, which led to a grand staircase into the main sanctuary.
It always felt cold in the church,the way it feels to walk into a museum, yet once settled in sunday school or main services it was warm and inviting. the ovewhelming choking back of tears when Gunther (organist) would play the call to worship and the choir would wail. It really overtook all of your thoughts.
My grandparents actually lived in the church for a while. My grandfather (James Wilson) was the caregiver for many years. When he retired and moved out, it was sad to see the church fall into such a decline. All those years of wealthy members supporting her every need, only to see it demolished still full of contents from the begining.
Judy and I spent who knows how many hours there going through church records, the precious blueprints (they are spectacular), the sunday school rosters, Marriage certificate copies, birth announcements, death notices. My grandparents old apartment (in the rear of the church) just destroyed filthy with the remnants of the drug addicts that would sneak in and use it for getting high, the floor littered with used needles empty bottles of booze, feces, reeking of urine. I could almost hear tears falling from the faces on the stained glass windows onto the then busted up cobblestone aisles.

We said our fairwells to Buena that day, I took a brick, Judy had the blueprints, we drove home nearly silent.

Thanks for this blog. Thanks for remembering what a grand institution she was to Buena park.

Anonymous said...

I grew up at this church too. I was baptized, had confirmation, attended Sunday school and church from around 1962 to 1975. Miss Shirley (who is still living) brought us kids to church each Sunday. Later, my Family moved up to Wilson AVE. near where Rev. Larkin lived so I jumped in the back of his station wagon to get to church! So sad to hear and see the church is gone. Does anyone know what happened to the congregation? You can email me at firemanjack@tx.rr.com Names from my era were Jack and Jackie Brewer, Mr. Eng, Mr. Gunther, Avon Goodson. Oh, I just remembered playing Basketball there too. Great memories... Jack Martin (52)

Katie said...

Does anyone know what happened to the church records?

adgorn said...

Believe it or not, I may have some of them. A tenant of my mother's (living on Buena) left an old box of stuff from the church. Lot's of papers and records. I have it now. Were you involved with the church?

adgorn said...

Hello all. Today I took pictures of the contents of box of items I have from the church. There are 6 binders, which I have entitled as follows:

1) 50th Anniversary Optimists Class album 1958
2) Crusaders album 1917-60
3) Guestbook 1945-54
4) Record 1903-17
5) Record 1918-19
6) Trustees records 1939-41

I posted the photos at Alan's Buena Presbyterian photos . The photos are captioned by their binder names. The Record 1903-17 and Record 1918-19 were the most interesting so I photographed these in entirety. The other binders I just photographed sample pages.

I have received feedback from the Presbyterian Historical Society office that they are interested in receiving these items and I would like to donate to them as soon as possible. If any of you have further interest, please let me know. Thanks.

Alan

Joanne said...

Thanks so much for sharing! I am probably going to borrow a few of those pics for feature posts.

adgorn said...

Please do! If you need me to crop to give you a better image let me know.

Sue Anderson said...

I found my grandparents' wedding certificate recently and learned that they were married at Buena Memorial Presbyterian Church on Christmas Eve 1921. Their names were Edith Montgomery and Hunter Funk. I'm wondering if they were listed in one of the record books. They came to Chicago from downstate Riggston to marry. None of their family knew.

linda albright said...

i took my first communion in that church and went there my entire childhood. i remember thinking i would marry in that church when i grew up. that didn't happen but it breaks my heart to see it gone. such wonderful memories there...........

Charlotte Miles said...

My in-laws were married in Buena Memorial by Rev. Henry Hepburn. I have a picture of the bride/groom, and wedding attendants+ outside the building showing a listing of times of services. They were married 29 June 1945 and there are no records that I can find from the state of IL. There are no pictures of the wedding inside the church. Would there be any records of marriages during that time period? Miles/Olson are the last names.

Anonymous said...

I was baptized at Buena Memorial and am trying to locate my baptismal certificate. Can anyone give me clue as to where or who I can contact? My maiden name was Patricia Wegs. I would really appreciate any help.
Thanks

Anonymous said...

I spent years at the Buena Memorial Presbyterian Sunday School and my mother was prominent in the Crusader Class headed by the ever faithful Maude Patterson. This was the 50s, the time of Dr. David Noble, an erudite, good looking man with a mellifluous speaking voice. He would often get carried away by his sermons, forgetting how to end them, which I found rather amusing from my perch in the soprano section of the adult choir loft. Because my singing voice matured early, I was picked to join the senior choir at the age of twelve. The choir master/organist was the brilliant Dr. Bethuel Gross. A renowned psychologist as well as a musical genius, he would often use the time of the sometimes rambling sermons to catch up on his reading behind the sheltering organ pipes.

The music was phenomenal! BG and his beautiful wife, Doris, presided over numerous soirrees that I was privileged to attend. It was there I discovered the works of Jean Paul Sartre and the comic songs of Tom Leherer.

Buena at that time was starting to feel the effects of the changing neighbourhood along with a growing born again influence emanating from Moody Bible Institute. After Dr. Noble retired, he was succeeded by Rev. Larkin and the vibrant congregation gradually deteriorated to a north side version of the Pacific Garden Mission. Subsequent congregations had enough difficulties keeping body and souls together, let alone the church roof.

As for me? Similarly to Mark Twain, "I was raised Presbyterian, but it wore off."

Unknown said...

I came across a beautiful collectors plate for this church, dated 1955, that celebrates the 50th golden jubilee anniversary. Plate is decorated with a black drawing of the front of the church. Anyone interested in this plate? I can be reached at redharry3@hotmail.com if you are interested.

Wheel said...

I went there in the 40's. Mrs. Daleburn was Sunday school.
After church, stop at bakery on the corner.
Left Chicago and Stewart School 1953.
Sorry to see it was torn down.

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