Croatian Church (originally St. Henry Church)
6335 N Hoyne Ave. Chicago, IL 60660
St. Henry was the first church built in the area. It was constructed at the northwest corner of Ridge Avenue and Devon Avenue in 1851. It was built by Henry Fortmann. It was a small structure and was replaced by a larger building in 1872 costing $10,000. This was the first Luxembourg Roman Catholic parish in Chicago. Until 1851, masses for local residents were held in a log house on this site built by Peter Schmitt on the Ridge Trail (now Ridge Avenue). In 1851, Henry Fortmann built a small frame house to offer mass to immigrants from Luxembourg and Germany. The Redemptorist Fathers of St. Michael’s Church attended to the community’s spiritual needs. Three acres of land were set-aside as a cemetery for parish members.
The church was dedicated on May 9, 1852. In 1871, the log house was replaced by a larger building costing $10,000 (equivalent to $260,000 today). In 1891, an addition was built under the Rev. Father Joseph Ruetershoff, and in 1905 the present large stately church was constructed. The building is a neo-Gothic structure, clad in brick with ornamentation of limestone and bronze. The architect was Henry J. Schlacks (1867-1938), who is considered by many to be the finest of Chicago's church architects. St. Henry’s could be considered the mother of all churches north of Irving Park Including those in Evanston. For many years its membership consisted largely of Luxembourgers, Irish, and Germans, with Luxembourgers predominant. It became a clearing house for new immigrants from Luxembourg, and to this day, many people of Luxembourg origin throughout the Midwest know about “St. Henry’s on the Ridge.”
Angel Guardian Orphanage was established in 1865 and a school built in 1882.In 1926 George Cardinal Mundelein transferred St. Henry’s Church to the orphanage and a new church was built at 6325 N. Hoyne Avenue.The patron saint of St. Henry’s was the Holy Roman Emperor Henry II (972-1024), who was crowned King of the Germans in 1002. As the population changed in the 1970s the church was transferred to a Croatian parish. Included in the 1992-1993 Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Tour and the 2012 St. Henry's Cemetery Tour.
Text from Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society.