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Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale

Flashback Friday: A Look Back At Landmark Church St. John Berchmans And Logan Square’s ‘Golden Block’

Landmark church St. John Berchmans calls its block the "golden block" because the frame houses near the church were painted yellow to match the yellow brick of the church.

St. John Berchmans church, taken in the early 1920s.
Logan Square Preservation
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LOGAN SQUARE — For Flashback Friday, learn more about the history of landmark church St. John Berchmans at 2511 W. Logan Boulevard and Logan Square’s “golden block.”

More from Logan Square Preservation’s Andrew Schneider:

St. John Berchmans is a landmark church visible from the expressway and occupying an entire block of Logan Blvd. (originally Humboldt Blvd.) near its eastern terminus.

Originally built as a Belgian ethnic parish, St. John Berchmans was opened in 1907. The first building constructed was the church itself (which was originally about half the size it is today). It was designed by Worthmann & Steinbach and when it opened its windows were clear glass.

But it didn’t always look like it does today. Two frame homes typical of the original suburb of Maplewood were once sited to the east of the church and home to the convent. The stained glass windows by the famed Kinsella Studios were added in 1922. Then the congregation built their first school on empty land on the east side of the block in 1925. By the early 1930s the homes were torn down and replaced by a new convent that we know today.

The frame houses were painted yellow to match the brick of the church allowing the congregation to call their block, Logan’s “Golden Block.”

Perhaps the most extraordinary event in the church’s history was the visit of Cardinal Prelate of Belgium in 1919 following the conclusion of World War I. More than 10,000 Belgians crowded Logan Blvd. to greet the visitor.

More recently, Logan Square Preservation raised more than $15,000 from our neighborhood to put their historic bell back into operation.

Credit: Logan Square Preservation
A colorized image of St. John Berchmans. The postcard was meant to celebrate the church’s completion in 1907. The rectory, visible to the right, is the original rectory.
Credit: Logan Square Preservation
Credit: Logan Square Preservation
This photo was taken shortly after the church’s completion in 1907 prior to the construction of the school. It also shows the two-frame houses.
Credit: Logan Square Preservation
This photo was taken in 1922 when the school was built.
Credit: Logan Square Preservation
Another photo taken in 1922 when the school was built.
Credit: Logan Square Preservation
This photo shows the final completion of the campus in 1932 after the new convent and rectory were built.

This Throwback Thursday/Flashback Friday feature was produced by Block Club Chicago and Logan Square Preservation. The newsroom and Logan Square-based group are reviving a partnership that started at DNAinfo which aims to share photos from Logan Square’s Preservation’s archives. When possible, we’ll work together to share photos that are topical and relevant to the news of the week.

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