St. Henry Church
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 (see R044-0133). It was built by Henry Fortmann. It was a small structure and was replaced by a larger building in 1872 costing $10,000.
In 1851, Henry Fortmann built a small frame house to offer mass to immigrants from Luxembourg and Germany. The community’s spiritual needs were attended to by the Redemptorist Fathers of St. Michael’s Church. 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 Luxemburg, 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.
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.