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:

Judy
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.

Susan
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!

24 comments:

Cape Guy said...

I removed the original Hall pipe organ from Buena Memorial Church about 1979. It was originally installed up on both sides of the choir loft in the front (pulpit side)of the Church. It was replaced by the new Moller pipe organ which was installed in the north end of the balcony. The original organ was parted out and sold for parts.

Green Fairy said...

Hi Cape Guy,

Do you know if the newer organ was salvaged, or did that get destroyed in the demolition?

Do you have any pictures of the original organ that you can share?

Cabana Bob said...

I'm glad Buena Church is not forgotten. My Mom and Dad grew up, got married, and was heavily involved at the church till the day it was shut down. I, too, was involved at the church and my kids were just starting to go to Sunday School when Buena Church closed its doors.

When the roof caved in, the church had been closed for 3-5 months, so no one was inside. The ceiling beam that fell damaged much of the interior and I heard the organ was damaged as well, the organ pipes were out of the way of the beam.

The beautiful stained glass windows were reportrd to of been sold to some company out west.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone out there have any pics of Kenmore between Buena and Irving -old pictures Bobbie

diz said...

I went to Buena Memorial in the late '50s and early '60s for Sunday School. One winter my mom took ill and the church members brought us boxes of groceries. We lived at Buena and Kenmore back then. I remember Mrs. Young, Mrs. Hankins and Miss Barnes. I was given a Bible signed by Pastor Larkin. What great memories.

Anonymous said...

We were married at Buena Memorial in Novemvber 25 1950. By Dr. Noble. He was a great man.

Green Fairy said...

Very nice! Do you have pictures of the wedding party inside or outside the church that you can share?

adgorn said...

I grew up in the area in an apt bldg. One of our tenants left a large box of stuff that was from the Church. Lot's of records, documents and pictures. Is there any formal organization that might want this? I have not reviewed/inventoried the contents in detail, but can do so if someone is interested.

Robert Lawhead said...

I also attended Buena Church from the time I was a baby (1953), until we moved from the area in 1969. I attended Sunday school each and every week, was active in the youth group as a teen (Tuxis) and became a member of the church under the guidance and teaching of Rev. Larkin. What memories, indeed! I am sure I knew some of you that have posted here. Buena was such an important part of my childhood and it was such a marvelous structure. Good memories!

Robert Lawhead said...

Adgorn ... I would Love to get some of those documents from you ... and put them to good use in the process of doing a documentary on Buena! I am an independent film guy that was raised in Buena

Anonymous said...

I also grew up attending Buena, and just came across this site and the comments. It might be useful if anyone with records, documents, etc. from Buena could transfer them to the National Archives of the PCUSA. I had thought perhaps the Chicago Presbytery would have taken them and put them in the archives, but perhaps not. I'm glad if they've been preserved by those who have an interest in Buena. If they now went to the Archives they would be available to all. Information on the Archives is at: http://history.pcusa.org/records/

Nancy said...

On August 9th. of 1941, my parents were married at Buena. I have a photo of the church and the pastor. He was in uniform and I think was called to duty after Pearl was bombed. The cover of the Chicago paper showed the hottest day of the year and the longest line ever to get marriage licenses! My parents came from Allerton and Fairmount in East Central, Il. but my mom's best friend, Jean Keen and her husband Bob Jenks were there working, so Jean made the arrangements so they could stand up with my parents. Since mom was not to turn 18 until, Sept., the court house called home and asked my grandmother's permission. Grandma was terrified at the long distance call, afraid they'd had a wreck. The could have called anyone, but back then lying was not a consideration. I saw the name of the church in a newspaper article about mom and dad and googled it. How sad it's gone, I always thought it was so beautiful from the photo. Does anyone have what happened to the pastors?

Joanne said...

Nancy -- If you're willing to share your photo of your parents, we'd love to post it. You can send it to editor@compassrose.org.

Anonymous said...

My mother and sister and myself went to this Church in the late 40's amd 50's O remember Rev.Hephern at that time he was an older man.

adgorn said...

I didn't get email about subsequent posts so I'm signing up now. Alan

adgorn said...

I went to the PHS website as posted by anonymous and found that they have a number of records on the church. I made a pdf of their holdings which you can see here:

PHS Holdings on Buena Presby

Some of the descriptions look similar to what I think I have, so I am contacting them. Plus I have responded to Robert Lawhead via email.

Alan

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link to the PHS site. I hope that what you can add will be additional information.

adgorn said...

Hello all. Today I took pictures of the contents of the 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

RON V said...

Hello,

I am new to this site and am particularly interested in the Buena Memorial Presbyterian Church. I was a south sider growing up a long time ago. Born in 1947. To make a long story short here, I have always had this picture from my mom's stuff that was called "the church" never in 40years did I understand untill my son and I started doing our family tree and he found that our relative was the minister at this church. Boy did the light go on and the phone calls started. The ministered was referenced here so someone must have known him. This would have been Rev. Hepburn.

So much for a short version. I would just like to know how I could communicate to those who might know the history a the church at that time and if there are locations to do more research on the history of the church at that time.


I am going to quit here as I see I will need to sign in and probably set up an account.

Have really enjoyed your post and had many similar experiences on the south side at Morgan Park Baptist Church.

Ron V

RON V said...

Hello,

I am new to this site and am particularly interested in the Buena Memorial Presbyterian Church. I was a south sider growing up a long time ago. Born in 1947. To make a long story short here, I have always had this picture from my mom's stuff that was called "the church" never in 40years did I understand untill my son and I started doing our family tree and he found that our relative was the minister at this church. Boy did the light go on and the phone calls started. The ministered was referenced here so someone must have known him. This would have been Rev. Hepburn.

So much for a short version. I would just like to know how I could communicate to those who might know the history a the church at that time and if there are locations to do more research on the history of the church at that time.

I have enjoyed reading your post about the church and had many simialar experiences on the south side at Morgan Park Baptish Church.

I would like to hear from anyone that may have information that would be helpful.

Ron V.

I signed in under gmail but normally use msn.com at the same prefix.

travel cot mattress said...

My mother and sister and myself went to this Church in the late 40's amd 50's O remember Rev.Hephern at that time he was an older man.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan & Judy:

I was sad to learn that the beautiful Buena Vista Presbyterian church had been demolished as so many historic buildings have been but suspected this might have happened because there was not a web site nor was it listed as many churches still are. I can’t imagine that these Mark Condos are as magnificent as our church was but developers seem to have few boundaries about demolishing even what may be structurally sound buildings. I see it daily where I now live but I did have wonderful memories also so that makes up for the sadness of the demise of this wonderful place. There were kind, considerate people there and after I left the neighborhood and moved to another state I would come back to visit the relatives and friends I still had there and attended the church and participated in many activities during those vacation times. What a thrill it always was to be back and I still have the Bible that I was given for memorizing some passages in Bible school. As I get older I think back to those times more and more but felt lucky that I at least have those memories. I’ve been looking at some of the old buildings around Sheridan and Montrose on the web and still marvel at the great designs.

Sandra

Jason Michalec said...

I actually own a few ranks of pipe work and windchest that were salvaged from this instrument. The windchests and 3 rank Scharf were incorporated into my home pipe organ. Several other ranks were installed on Rodgers Pipe/Digital Organs throught chicago

judy rudolph said...

Hi I don't know if anyone can help me or not. My boyfriend mother was married at Buena Memorial Presbyterian Church and I'm trying to find her. She put him up for adoption and her mother was the only one that knew about him because she had went to have him in Cleveland Ohio. After many years of searching I was able to find his mother's marriage license. Her name is Rosemary Sharon Bartel she married Steven M Jiminez. Pastor David A Noble married them on January 4, 1958. I could follow them up until 1968 when they got divorced in Dubson NC. We know his mom had a older half sister who had a child and a younger sister and brother. We believe his mother had other children. If we could find any relatives it would be wonderful. Even information on his mom. He was born September 7, 1956. She name him Peter but his adopted parents name him Paul. Can anyone help us please. My email address is judiyc@yahoo.com. Thank you and God Bless you. Paul and Judy

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