February 25, 2009
Memories of Buena Memorial Presbyterian Church in Uptown Chicago
Susan and Judy are sisters who attended Buena Memorial Presbyterian Church, which 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. They left such wonderful comments to the original post, that we thought we would feature them here:
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 souvenirs. 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.
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 overwhelming 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 beginning.
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 farewells 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.
Thank you, Judy and Susan, for sharing such great memories!