Fund-raising underway for church boiler
by BRIAN NADIG
The oldest religious congregation in Jefferson Park has launched a fund-raising campaign to pay for a new boiler.
The Congregational Church of Jefferson Park, 5320 W. Giddings St., is operating in its third building, which was constructed in 1929, since the congregation was founded in 1861. The fund-raising effort was reported at the Nov. 28 meeting of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association.
Church member Don Mendro said that it would cost $47,000 to install a new boiler. He added that the existing 30-year-old boiler is working but it has a severe leak and could permanently shut down at anytime.
Donations can be made at www. gofundme.com/boiler-replacement-fund, or mailed or dropped off at the church, Mendro said. "We’d like to be here another 150 years," he said.
So far, about $15,300 has been raised from checks and the gofundme Web page.
Local historian and author Dan Pogorzelski highlighted the church’s history at the meeting as part of a presentation on Chicago’s history.
Many of Jefferson Park’s most successful businessmen in the early 1900s belonged to the congregational church, and its New England architectural style reflects the church’s history and early heritage, Pogorzelski said. "New England folk (and others) settled here as farmers," he said.
The congregation’s second church was sold and moved to make way for the 1929 building, Pogorzelski said. It is believed that the church was relocated, only to be later demolished, to make way for the construction of the Kennedy Expressway, he said.
The church’s distinctive facade, featuring tall pillars and a steeple, was constructed to help show the congregation’s pride and competed with the grand style of many of the area’s Catholic churches, Pogorzelski said.
Pogorzelski also discussed how there was a shoreline until about 10,000 to 12,000 years ago along a ridge approximately where Narragansett Avenue runs. Known as "Glacial Lake Chicago," it covered much of Chicago and was responsible for the swampy nature of the city’s land, he said.
In addition, Pogorzelski said that older residents will remind him of the time when not all of the area was an urban landscape. "Driving on Harlem and you could see farms in the early 1950s," he said.
It also was reported that the association is reviewing its platform, which includes opposition to up-zoning and the dissolution of the Jefferson Park Tax Increment Financing District.
The association’s bylaws require that the platform be reviewed every 3 years. "It’s most about property, but we could expand (the platform)," association vice president Brian Wardman said.
In lieu of its regular monthly meeting, the association will hold its annual holiday party from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17, at Dino’s Pizza, 7004 W. Higgins Ave.
THE CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH of Jefferson Park, 5320 W. Giddings St., is raising money to purchase a new boiler.
The current 30-year-old boiler has a severe leak and could permanently shut down at any moment.
A local historian recently discussed the church’s history at a meeting of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association on Nov. 28.
(Photo by Kevin Gross)