Global True Lithuania Encyclopedia of Lithuanian heritage worldwide

Chicago, Illinois

Home to some 80 000 Lithuanians, Chicagoland is perhaps the second important center of Lithuanian nation after Lithuania itself and it has been so for well over a century. Between the 1890s and 1930s there were more Lithuanians in Chicago than in any town or city of their still agricultural former homeland. Chicago Lithuanian numbers increased rapidly from 14 000 in 1900 to 80 000 in 1924.

After earning enough money some Lithuanians went back to Europe yet others remained, starting influential families. Elaborate Lithuanian churches were built, followed by schools, monasteries, museums, clubs and other institutions. The center of Lithuanian settlement gradually moved: from Bridgeport and Back of the Yards (in the 1900s - 1910s) to Marquette Park (in 1950s). After Marquette Park was overtaken by Blacks there is no longer a Lithuanian district in Chicago, but a community center exists in the Lemont suburb.

Lithuanian district center with church, school, and monastery at the Back of the Yards district

Lithuanian district center with church, school, and monastery at the Back of the Yards district

The top Lithuanian sites to visit in Chicago are:
1.Top Lithuanian churches - Holy Cross (see "Back of the Yards") and Nativity BVM (see "Marquette Park"), followed by St. Anthony (see "Cicero") and Immaculate Conception (see "Brighton Park").
2.Top Lithuanian museums and cultural centers - Lithuanian World Center (see "Lemont"), Balzekas museum (see "West Lawn"), Lithuanian Youth Center (Gage Park).
3.Lithuanian cemeteries - St. Casimir Cemetery and National Cemetery (see "Lithuanian cemeteries").
4.Lithuanian monuments - the Lemont Hill of Crosses (see "Lemont"), Darius and Girėnas monument (see "Marquette Park").
5.Other sites - St. Casimir Sisters convent, Lithuania Plaza street (for both see "Marquette Park").

Lithuanian Youth center, housing numerous museums, archives, and memorials

Lithuanian Youth center, housing numerous museums, archives, and memorials

Sadly, Lituanity in Illinois seems to be somewhat on a decline. In the 1990s - 2000s several Lithuanian churches were demolished or no longer celebrate Mass in Lithuanian. The older generation of Lithuanians ("second-wave immigrants") pass away, and the third wave did not replenish Lithuanity as much as expected.

Back of the Yards - stockyards and America's top Lithuanian church

The most impressive of the Chicago's Lithuanian churches is the Baroque revival Holy Cross in Back of the Yards that has been even included in the general books on Chicago architecture.

Holy Cross Lithuanian church in Chicago (Back of the Yards)

Holy Cross Lithuanian church in Chicago (Back of the Yards)

Built by the original community of slaughterhouse workers in 1913 the elaborate church once anchored a district full of Lithuanian homes and institutions. With immigrants from Latin America displacing Lithuanians, the parish was abolished in the 1970s and the Lithuanian Mass ceased to be celebrated in ~2005. Plaque "Lietuvių Rymo katalikų bažnyčia" remains near the entrance ("Lithuanian Roman Catholic church" in pre-modern Lithuanian language when "Rome" was still called "Rymas") while the pediment includes the Columns of Gediminas.

Pediment of the Holy Cross Lithuanian church in Chicago (Back of the Yards)  with columns of Gediminas (on the right side)

Pediment of the Holy Cross Lithuanian church in Chicago (Back of the Yards) with columns of Gediminas (on the right side)

The interior (accessible on Sundays alone) is also miraculously spectacular, dwarfing even many cathedrals in its splendor, as well as most churches in both Chicago and Lithuania itself. It includes paintings of the Hill of Crosses (Šiauliai) and the Gate of Dawn (Vilnius Old Town), as well as Christening of Mindaugas, while the stained-glass windows and artworks are mostly Lithuanian-created, having the Lithuanian names of sponsors or artists under them.

Holy Cross Lithuanian church in Chicago (Back of the Yards) interior

Holy Cross Lithuanian church in Chicago (Back of the Yards) interior

Stained glass windows at the Holy Cross Lithuanian church in Chicago (Back of the Yards)

Stained glass windows at the Holy Cross Lithuanian church in Chicago (Back of the Yards)

Hill of Crosses painting at the Holy Cross Lithuanian church in Chicago (Back of the Yards)

Hill of Crosses painting at the Holy Cross Lithuanian church in Chicago (Back of the Yards)

While initially the church has been constructed by a Czech architect Joseph Molitor (at the time, there were no Lithuanian architects capable of such a feat), in the 1950s it has been later greatly Lithuanized by Adolfas Valeška, who is responsible for most of the Lithuanian bas-reliefs, paintings, and stained-glass windows. Moreover, the floor has been covered in Lithuanian patterns since that renovation.

Next to the church stands a former Lithuanian convent (now a school) with a traditional Lithuanian sun-cross and Lithuanian-crated mosaic (author - Valeška, architect - Kova-Kovalskis).

Holy Cross Lithuanian monastery

Holy Cross Lithuanian monastery

The life of Lithuanian butchers who built the Back of the Yards is described in the fictionalized account "Jungle" by journalist Upton Sinclair still held to be of great importance to Chicago history. It was in these slaughterhouses where the industrial might of the Chicago was born. For the first time, the animals were slaughtered in a single city only to be sold in faraway places like New York or Boston. Prior to this "to buy meat" meant "to visit a local butcher", something changed for good by the Chicago's businessmen and countless immigrants from thousands of cities and towns around Europe (the number of Lithuanian butchers was only surpassed by Poles).

The famous Chicago Union Stockyards have been closed in the 1971 and mostly demolished. A few buildings remain such as the Stockyard gate in W Exchange Ave. Next to the gate, a plaque reminds of the Stockyards history and the "Jungle" novel. It reminds of the Lithuanians as one of the major groups of workers in the yards.

Union Stockyard gate in Chicago

Union Stockyard gate in Chicago

Bridgeport - the first Lithuanian district of Chicago

Bridgeport was once outflanked by a beautiful massive tower of 1902 Gothic revival St. George Lithuanian church. It was the oldest Lithuanian parish in Chicago (and, in fact, west of the Appalachians). Unfortunately by bishop's decision the church was demolished in 1990 and replaced by an empty lot, after donating the church's works of art and furniture to a parish in the recently-independent Lithuania. The riches of the fading emigre were thus symbolically repatriated.

Bridgeport St. George Lithuanian church (demolished; left and center), its parish school (top right) and rectory (bottom right).

The site of the St. George Lithuanian church in Bridgeport

The site of the St. George Lithuanian church in Bridgeport

The nearby former 3-floored St. George parish school (1908), declared by to be the "best Lithuanian school in America" by a 1916 Lithuanian-American almanach, still stands although is a non-Lithuanian Philip Armour school (but the plaque "MOKYKLA ŠV. JURGIO K." (St. George C. school) still remains on top). In 1916, it had 450 pupils and a parish hall with 1500 seats (the parish was among the US richest Lithuanian parishes).

St. George Lithuanian school at Bridgeport

St. George Lithuanian school at Bridgeport

St. George Lithuanian school at Bridgeport

St. George Lithuanian school at Bridgeport

Bridgeport also had a massive Lithuanian Auditorium (3133 So. Halsted Street) with a Vytis on it (built 1925) which once served as the hub of Chicago's Lithuanian activities. However, it has also been demolished in the 1990s as Lithuanians departed the district. 1000-seat Lithuanian theater Milda (est. 1914), once associated with Lithuanian communists, has met the same fate (now replaced by a police station). Another theater "Ramova" (est. 1929) still stands albeit closed since 1983 (3518 S. Halsted Street) with a dissipating movement to save it. The Lithuanian name (which means 'Pagan temple') proudly hangs over the S Halsted street on a historic large 1944 sign that is a final reminder of the era when most of the people in the area used to speak Lithuanian (the crumbling decor is Spanish-styled, however).

Ramova Cinema in Bridgeport

Ramova Cinema in Bridgeport

A street in Bridgeport is still named Lituanica Avenue since the 1930s. Lithuanian pilots Steponas Darius and Stasys Girėnas left for their doomed flight from the St. George church there. They became instant martyrs in 1933 when after flying across the Atlantic ocean their plane "Lituanica" crashed in what is now Poland, only several hundred kilometers from destination Kaunas. S. Darius and S. Girėnas were also worldwide pioneers of air mail and their continuous flight time was the second largest ever at the time (6 411 km).

Lituanica Street address

Lituanica Street address

The western limit of Lithuanian Bridgeport used to be at Morgan St., with Poles living beyond it.

Darius-Girėnas memorial plaques in Chicago airports

Darius and Girėnas who perished while trying to make Lithuania's name famous are still the key figures for the Lithuanian-American community. In 1993 a plaque was unveiled for them in Midway Airport which happens to be at the center of various past and present Lithuanian districts and also the place where they named their plane as "Lituanica". In 2008 this plaque was reinstated after reconstruction through titanious efforts of some Lithuanians. The plaque is in the ticketed-passengers-only area at the beginning of the Concourse A, on the left side if walking towards the concourse A.

Darius and Girėnas plaque at the Midway airport

Darius and Girėnas plaque at the Midway airport

In 2013 (75th anniversary of the Darius-Girėnas flight) an additional memorial plaąue for them was unveiled in the Palwakee (now Chicago executive) airport. While Darius and Girėnas have departed from New York, Palwaukee was significant to them as they bought their Lituanica there. Palwaukee airport badge would often appear during the public fundraisers of Darius and Girėnas and it is even depicted on the 10 litas banknote that depicts Darius and Girėnas. The plaque is at the entrance room to the main airport building (with "Signature" words on it).

Darius and Girėnas memorial plaque at the Palwaukee airport

Darius and Girėnas memorial plaque at the Palwaukee airport

Marquette Park - the largest-ever Lithuanian district outside Lithuania

If somebody mentions "Chicago's Lithuanian district", he usually means Marquette Park. Back in 1950s-1970s, it was the largest Lithuanian district outside Lithuania and many of the today's prominent Lithuanian-Americans spent their childhoods there. At the time, the descendants of the pre-war immigrants who moved there for better-than-in-Bridgeport homes were joined by the "second wave" of refugees fleeing from almost certain deaths in their Soviet-occupied country. Coming from intellectual backgrounds, these refugees created a well crafted and rich community, centered around Lithuania Plaza street. In its heyday, Marquette Park area housed 30 000 Lithuanians (out of total population of 45 000).

Lithuanian Plaza street name

Lithuanian Plaza street name

Since those times, a large 1957 Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (B.V.M.) towers over the district. It combines post-war architectural austerity with pre-war size, both historicist and unique ethnic Lithuanian details. Initially criticized by some, this joint work of architect Jonas Mulokas and interior designer V. K. Jonynas was eventually praised and set the style for later Lithuanian-American churches. Lithuanian Mass is celebrated there. Everything in church's architecture tells of the longing for their lost homeland.

Nativity BVM Lithuanian church

Nativity BVM Lithuanian church

On the outside, the tricolor is always waving, while the church's side walls are adorned by two historical mosaics: "The coronation of King Mindaugas" and "Miracle of St. Casimir at the River Dauguva". While having religious connotations enough to put them on the church, the deeper meaning of both is symbolic patriotically: Mindaugas was the first Lithuanian king recognized as such by Western powers (as he was the first Christian king), while the St. Casimir's miracle involved him appearing as a young soldier in front of the Lithuanian troops in 1518, showing these troops where to cross Dauguva river without drowning so they could ambush and defeat the Russians. Both themes - continued foreign recognition of Lithuanian statehood and the victory over the (Soviet) Russian occupants - were extremely important to Lithuanian-Americans back in the 1950s.

Nativity BVM Lithuanian church facade mosaic (the miracle of St. Casimir)

Nativity BVM Lithuanian church facade mosaic (the miracle of St. Casimir)

Corronation of Mindaugas mosaic at the Nativity BVM Lithuanian church

Corronation of Mindaugas mosaic at the Nativity BVM Lithuanian church

External bas-reliefs above the entrance of the church represent the sites of Lithuanian Maryan cult locations (Vilnius, Žemaičių Kalavarija, Pažaislis, Šiluva). The pretty stained-glass windows in the apse repeats the theme, with each including an image of Virgin Mary but also images of numerous Lithuania's churches - some of them closed and looted by the Soviet atheist regime at the time. Even secular buildings such as Trakai Castle are included in some windows. Patriotic symbols may also be seen on the St. Casimir stained-glass window on the side of the church (Vytis, Columns of Gediminas).

Lithuanian-cities-inspired stained glass windows at the Nativity BVM Lithuanian church of Marquette Park

Lithuanian-cities-inspired stained glass windows at the Nativity BVM Lithuanian church of Marquette Park

Also interesting are the two murals on the interior, painted by Lithuanian nuns. One of them is dedicated to Our Lady of Šiluva, which is the earliest church-recognized Maryan vision in Europe.

Among Marquette Park's key Lithuanian symbols is Chicago's largest Darius and Girėnas memorial. The unveiling of this art deco sculpture in 1935 was attended by 60 000 people. The anniversaries of their "glorious but doomed" flight are still celebrated annually there, even if drawing only 100 people. By the way, S. Darius, a lover of sport and Olympic participant, is also credited for writing one of the first books on basketball in Lithuanian (in 1922), making foundations for this American invention to become Lithuania's national sport.

Darius and Girėnas memorial in Marquette Park

Darius and Girėnas memorial in Marquette Park

Darius and Girėnas memorial in Marquette Park

Darius and Girėnas memorial in Marquette Park

The Marquette Park district itself, however, is now populated by blacks who started moving in in the 1960s-1970s, displacing the Lithuanians. For the Blacks, Marquette Park was simple a white district that could be targetted in their civil rights movement as a symbol of segregation in Chicago. As such, hundreds of Blacks came to live in tents in the Marquette Park itself in 1966. The crime rates have risen significantly, the property values declined. A conflict between the "old inhabitants" (Lithuanians and other whites) and the "new arrivals" (Blacks) took place. Both sides were supported by their racial compatriots from elsewhere, who, often with racist ideas, would descend on the area just to fight what they saw to be a "racial war". Unlike for other whites, however, for Lithuanians, this was a matter of their own survival: it was their only district and, losing it, they would have lost the only area in the USA where you can still speak Lithuanian as the main language. For Blacks, this was simply a matter of destroying segregation by coming to live at the historically white districts and they did not differentiate among different white ethnicities despite the fact that there have been no known Lithuanian-American slaveowners in the entire US history.

Eventually, Lithuanians have lost, and more and more of them chose to sell their Marquette Park properties at a big loss and retreat to the suburbs, taking part in the "white flight". They would never create another truly Lithuanian district in Chicago again and this likely contributed greatly to the decline of the Lithuanian culture in Chicago. It is difficult to say that Black civil rights activists have won either, however, as their only achievement was moving the "frontline of segregation" northwards, turning Marquette Park from a Lithuanian district into a ghetto. Still, in 2016, a Memorial to Martin Luther King has been built in the north of the park, where just the Black-side of the story is presented through the call to "destroy the ghetto walls". In an attempt to show the multicultural history of the district, the word "Home" is written in different languages on one of the memorial columns, with Lithuanian word "Namai" written on the top.

Martin Luther King memorial in Marquette Park

Martin Luther King memorial in Marquette Park

Some Marquette Park buildings are now abandoned, but in Lithuanian Plaza Avenue (named so in 1970) you may still see crumbling Lithuania-inspired tricolor and Vytis decor and some Lithuanian names at the now-empty former businesses: "Antano kampas", "Gintaras Club" (the latter of which is sung about in a 1990s song by the famous Lithuanian singer-songwriter Vytautas Kernagis who had a gig there), "Lithuanian Plaza Bakery", "Plaza Pub" (the later two having Lithuanian decor).

Plaza Pub sign

Plaza Pub sign

In the 1990s, the Lithuanity of the Marquette Park was temporarily rejuvenated by new immigrants from Lithuania who found it both cheap and appropriate to live in the historic Lithuanian district and had no prejudices about living among blacks. However, after noticing how unsafe the district is, most of them left once they earned more money and the last remaining Lithuanian restaurants closed in the 2000s-2010s. Even this was already only a shadow of the original community which had many businesses, and cultural institutions in an extensive area between 63rd st., 73rd st., Western Avenue, and California Avenue.

Antano kampas in Lithuanian Plaza

Antano kampas in Lithuanian Plaza that used to be owned by a post-1990 Lithuanian immigrant. Now closed.

Marquette Park district still boasts a massive St. Casimir Lithuanian Convent Motherhouse (the first massive edifice had its construction started in 1909 while the extension took place in 1982) that keeps exceptional relations with Lithuania. On the ground floor, the convent hosts a rather modern Museum of St. Casimir Sisters (officially "Legacy rooms", est. 2018) that tells a story of this Lithuanian-American nuns congregation founded by Marija Kaupas (1880-1940, an immigrant from Ramygala). While the door of the building may be locked, it is opened for people who ring and ask to see the legacy rooms.

Sisters of St. Casimir Convent

Sisters of St. Casimir Convent

Legacy rooms of the Sisters of St. Casimir Convent

Legacy rooms of the Sisters of St. Casimir Convent

Back in the first half of the 20th century, St. Casimir sisters used to staff the Lithuanian parish schools, hospitals, senior homes all over America. As welfare state expanded, however, and the American public institutions took over these duties, the secular need for the Sisters declined and so did their congregation, going down from ~600 nuns to just ~50 in 2018, with the youngest one at 65.

The nearby Lithuanian school building (Lithuanian cornerstone) and the Holy Cross Hospital (Lithuanian-language plaque near the emergency entrance with 1928 date), once established by the nuns, are now both run and used by non-Lithuanians. Originally, they served the community of the Marquette Park district.

Much of the massive convent ("Motherhouse") itself has also been transferred to other Catholic activities (Catholic Charities) and only parts of it still house a few nuns.

Nativity BVM Lithuanian school

Nativity BVM Lithuanian school

Holy Cross Hospital in Marquette Park

Holy Cross Hospital in Marquette Park

Another impressive site in the historic Convent is its Baroque Revival chapel. There, holy mass is still regularly held (laymen could attend) and there, at the entrance, the body of Marija Kaupas herself lays in a sarcophagus. The goal of the nuns is to convince the Vatican eventually that Marija Kaupas was a saint, making her the second Lithuanian saint. Should that succeed, her relics would likely be sent to various churches all over the world. The stained glass windows in the convent are adorned in Lithuanian inscriptions and have been installed in the 1920s.

Chapel of the St. Casimir Sisters Convent

Chapel of the St. Casimir Sisters Convent

Marija Kaupas sarcophagus at the St. Casimir Sisters convent

Marija Kaupas sarcophagus at the St. Casimir Sisters convent

Outside the convent, there are several Lithuanian memorials. The largest one is the priest Antanas Staniukynas statue (1865-1918) on the streetside with Lithuanian slogan "Jis mirė, bet jo darbai gyvena" (He died, however, his work continues); among his work was cooperating with Marija Kaupas in creating the St. Casimir Sisters. In the yard of the convent, a built-in-1957 St. Casimir monument stands. A neighboring street is called "Honorary Maria Kaupas road" after Marija Kaupas. In the yard of the convent, another Lithuanian-inscribed sculpture is dedicated to St. Casimir.

Priest Staniukynas statue near the Sisters of St. Casimir Convent

Priest Staniukynas statue near the Sisters of St. Casimir Convent

St. Casimir statue at the Sisters of St. Casimir Convent

St. Casimir statue at the Sisters of St. Casimir Convent

West Lawn Lithuanian institutions - Balzekas Museum, Draugas

West Lawn districts immediately to the West of the Marquette park house two of Chicago's most important Lithuanian institutions. Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture established in 1966 is the largest such institution outside Lithuania. It has been located in the current place (South Pulaski Rd. 6500) since 1986.

Balzekas Lithuanian museum of Chicago

Balzekas Lithuanian museum of Chicago

Exhibits of the Balzekas Lithuanian museum of Chicago

Exhibits of the Balzekas Lithuanian museum of Chicago

The museum has three floors, with a general exhibition of Lithuania available on the first floor, the second floor housing a hall for temporary events, and the third floor hosting temporary exhibits. The first-floor permanent exhibition includes many pieces of the Lithuanian culture and history, as well as of that of Lithuanian-Americans and their strive to get established in the new land as well as help their (former?) homeland both economically and (especially) politically: first so that Lithuania would become free in 1918 and then recognized by the USA, and then so that its occupation (1940-1990) would end. It is useful to read some basic Lithuanian history (for example, here) before visiting the museum to grasp the meaning of the exhibits, although they are labeled in English.

Exhibits of the Balzekas Lithuanian museum of Chicago

Exhibits of the Balzekas Lithuanian museum of Chicago

A painting exhibited at Balzekas museum - a woman carrying the Tower of Gediminas of Vilnius

A painting exhibited at Balzekas museum - a woman carrying the Tower of Gediminas of Vilnius

The museum has been established by Stanley Balzekas, a son of Lithuanian immigrants, who wanted it to become a bridge between Lithuanians and Americans, to have more contact to the American community as a whole than many other Lithuanian institutions had. Balzekas being a businessman and avid collector, he managed to collect a significant number of items and attract a wider attention to his museum, especially in the 1990s when Lithuania was in the world news as a newly-independent country. Balzekas museum also helps foster Lithuanian-American relations through organizing annual tours to Lithuania for Lithuanian descendants. The nearby portion of Pulaski road even received a honorary name of Stanley Balzekas Way in his honor.

Balzekas Lithuanian museum in Chicago

Balzekas Lithuanian museum in Chicago entrance with the plaque of Stanley Balzekas Way

Not too far away from Balzekas museum, the "Draugas" ("Friend") publishing house building is home to the oldest continuously published Lithuanian language newspaper (first edition in 1909). Aimed at Lithuanian Americans it used to be daily until 2011 and now is issued three times a week with circulation went down to a third of what it was in the 1960s (down from 7000 to 2000), some 60% of the readers located in Chicago but many reading it all over the USA. Now "Draugas" also publishes its own English-language monthly "Draugas News" and also sells Lithuanian books at its publishing house. The publishing house is spacious as it dates to another era when a "small village of people" was needed to publish and print a single edition of the newspaper. With the advent of the computers and the outsourcing of printing, an atmosphere of empty-ish 1950s office prevails inside, with Lithuanian spirit is all around.

Draugas publishing house

Draugas publishing house

Draugas publishing house (a new edition is sent to the subscribers)

Draugas publishing house (a new edition is sent to the subscribers)

"Draugas" has been established by the Maryan fathers who were based in the Maryan fathers monastery nearby and worked for free for the newspaper. Designed by Jonas Mulokas, the monastery follows his iconic "modern Lithuanian" style with a tower that reminds a traditional Lithuanian chapel-post (koplytstulpis). While the Maryan fathers community has been effectively reestablished by a Lithuanian priest Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis, ultimately few Lithuanians joined it in America and now the community is dominated by Polish priests. They no longer use the monastery, renting it to various weekend retreats instead. Lithuanian Maryan fathers now work in Lithuania alone

Lithuanian Maryan monastery of Chicago

Lithuanian Maryan monastery of Chicago

Lithuanian Maryan monastery of Chicago interior

Lithuanian Maryan monastery of Chicago interior

.

In Burbank suburb next to the West Lawn, a new Lithuanian institution has been created in 2018: the Lithuanian-American Hall of Fame, where famous Lithuanian-Americans are being inscribed. It will be a hall used for various Lithuanian events as well as accessible to the public.

Lithuanian-American Hall of Fame

Lithuanian-American Hall of Fame

Lithuanian Jesuit Youth center - museums, gallery, and archives

Another massive key Lithuanian hub in Chicago is Lithuanian Jesuit Youth Center (5620 S Claremont Avenue, ~3 km north of the Marquette Park). This is yet another Cold War-era institution (built 1958) funded by Lithuanian diaspora desperately trying to help their culture survive for the generations to come (even as a minority). Lithuania-themed activities/education for children and teenagers had been its goal.

Lithuanian Youth center facade with Vytis and the memorial to those who died for Lithuanian freedom in front

Lithuanian Youth center facade with Vytis and the memorial to those who died for Lithuanian freedom in front

The massive building complex uses a patriotic architecture with a large modernized Vytis forming its façade. In its yard, stands the Memorial for those who died for Lithuanian freedom that includes all the traditional Lithuanian symbols: the Cross of Vytis, the Columns of Gediminas, and Vytis itself. It has been constructed by the famous architect Jonas Mulokas in 1959 and originally had more inscriptions. Next to it, there is a traditional Lithuanian chapel-post (koplytstulpis) dedicated to Jesuit priest Jonas Raibužis (donated by scouts) and Cross dedicated to Kražiai massacre victims donated by Paskočimas family. Kražiai massacre was a 1893 event when Russian soldiers have murdered Lithuanian civilians who tried to protect their church from destruction. This event attracted worldwide attention to the Russian Orthodox anti-Catholic discrimination in Lithuania. At the time the cross was constructed, the anti-Catholic discrimination by the Russians resurfaced in Lithuania once again, this time in the name of communism. Thus there is an inscription on the cross that in 1976, during an anti-Soviet protest, students read the Chronicles of Catholic Church (an underground newspaper that documented the human rights violations in Lithuania) for 40 hours in a row.

Lithuanian cross dedicated to the victims of Kražiai massacre

Lithuanian cross dedicated to the victims of Kražiai massacre

Lithuanian girl scouts' chapel-post (koplytstulpis)

Lithuanian girl scouts' chapel-post (koplytstulpis)

While Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union and religion was persecuted there, Lithuanian Jesuit province was effectively based here in Chicago and part of the building is Jesuit monastery. Currently, there are no longer any priests or monks living there as the Jesuit activities have been relocated back to Lithuania. Still, the monastery chapel still offers holy mass once a month. The exterior of the monastery chapel includes a bas-relief "Jesuits come to Vilnius in 1569", also the Lithuanian Coat of Arms.

Lithuanian coat of arms on the Lithuanian Jesuit chapel

Lithuanian coat of arms on the Lithuanian Jesuit chapel

The Youth Center houses a multitude of other Lithuanian institutions, amalgamated in 1981 to form the Lithuanian Research and Studies Center, which is the largest Lithuanian scholarly organization outside of Lithuania. It includes the World Lithuanian Archives and numerous other related archives (musicology, medicine, photo, audio-visual, fine art), which are the best repository of Lithuanian-American works but also include works by other Lithuanians.

Like many such top-level Lithuanian-American institutions, the Research and Study Center expands its repositories through donations and legacies, often by old Lithuanians who have no Lithuanian-speaking descendants. With many donations, even the quite massive premises of the Youth Center became too small for LRSC, and so the LSRC has acquired a new building in Lemont in 2018.

The scholarly wing of LRSC (responsible for studies, education, and publishing) consists of the Institute of Lithuanian studies, Center for the Study of Genocide in Lithuania and Lithuanian Institute of Education.

Furthermore, the Lithuanian Research and Studies Center owns three museums: Ramovėnai Lithuanian Military Museum, Lithuanian Museum and the Lithuanian Museum of Medicine. All may be visited during the workdays although it is better to contact in advance.

Badges of the old Lithuanian-American brotherhoods in the Lithuanian Youth Center museum

Badges of the old Lithuanian-American brotherhoods in the Lithuanian Youth Center museum

Key sections in the museums include:
*Miniature versions of Lithuanian traditional wooden crosses (UNESCO World Heritage).
*Things that belonged to the Lithuanian anti-Soviet partisans (uniforms, flags, etc.) and information related to that war that was the longest guerilla war in 20th century Europe [the Ramovėnai Lithuanian Military Museum].
*Lithuanian postal stamps.
*Historic Lithuanian banknotes.
*Stamps of the post-WW2 Lithuanian refugee organizations in Germany.
*Pendants of the early 20th century Lithuanian organizations.
*Inventory used by the Lithuanian doctors of Chicago in the mid-20th century [the Museum of Medicine].

Traditional Lithuanian metal crosses in the Lithuanian Youth Center museums

Traditional Lithuanian metal crosses in the Lithuanian Youth Center museums

There are also two non-LTRSC affiliated institutions in the Youth Center, namely the Lithuanian Saturday school and the Čiurlionis art gallery that offers temporary exhibitions of the works of Lithuanian artists. The Main hall of the Youth center offers Lithuanian events, although they have grown rarer and rarer as the Lithuanians have left the neighborhood.

Lithuanian Lutheran churches of Chicago

While today the Lithuanian nation is predominantly Catholic, prior to World War 2 up to 15% of ethnic Lithuanians were Lutheran (9% in Lithuania itself). These people hailed from Lithuania Minor region of what was then Germany. Tragically, in Lithuania, they were wiped off almost completely by the Soviets in the Genocide of Lithuania Minor (1944-1949).

However, two large groups of Lithuanian Lutherans managed to emigrate, establishing two Lithuanian Lutheran parishes in Chicago. Unlike the Catholic parishes, Lutheran parishes did not hesitate to "migrate" together with their congregations after their districts were hit with white flight, so, both are now located in the suburbs where most Lithuanians live. Both Lutheran church buildings are rather small and function is accentuated over beauty, with many non-religious premised available inside.

Zion Lithuanian Lutheran church is the older one, dating to 1910 when it has been established by Martynas Keturakaitis, a priest from Tauragė. It has its own building in Oak Lawn suburb that includes church hall and Lithuanian kindergarten. The building has been acquired from another Protestant community in 1973 when the parish relocated to this suburb from Chicago. As such, the building itself has no Lithuanian details but the interior has many Lithuanian memorabilia. Also, Lithuanians have extended the building in 1982 in order to have a larger secular hall.

Zion Lithuanian Lutheran church

Zion Lithuanian Lutheran church

Zion Lithuanian Lutheran church (priest images)

Zion Lithuanian Lutheran church (priest images)

The initial congregation of Zion Lutheran church itself has been greatly expanded ~1950 when Chicago's Lutherans wrote over 800 letters of invitation to many Lithuanian Lutheran refugees who were stranded in refugee camps in Europe. However, a rift soon became apparent between the "old Lithuanian-Americans" of the Zion parish and the post-WW2 refugees: for the pre-WW1 Lithuanian-Americans, USA was already more or less the homeland, and the Zion parish had aligned itself with the US Lutheran church of the Missouri Synod. The post-WW2 immigrants, however, often saw their lives in the USA as a temporary exile and saw the need to safeguard as much of the Lithuanian traditions as possible, as well as separate from the US society more in order to safeguard Lithuanians as a separate group.

Zion Lithuanian Lutheran church (main hall)

Zion Lithuanian Lutheran church (main hall)

After the calls by post-WW2 refugee priest Trakis to severe the Zion Lutheran church relations with the US Lutheran church (Missouri Synod) were not recognized by the "old Lithuanian-Americans", Trakis created a separate Lithuanian Lutheran parish known as Tėviškė ("The Homeland"). Initially, this parish has been located in the Lithuanian Lutheran church building near Marquette park that was acquired from Jews in 1950s and sold to Black-dominated Heart Church Ministries church in 2000s as the district has changed (nothing reminds the Lutheran church in the building now). Since then, Tėviškė Lutheran church rents its premises in Western Springs (5129 Wolf Road). However, even though the premises are rented, Lithuanian-inspired welcome signs have been built and some Lithuanian memorabilia is kept inside.

Lithuanian historic flag at the driveway to the Tėviškė chruch

Lithuanian historic flag at the driveway to the Tėviškė chruch

Tėviškė parish continues to be the more "ethnic" one among the two Chicago Lithuanian parishes: for example, Tėviškė has solely Lithuanian services while Zion parish also offers English services and conducts its Bible study in English. For some five decades 1950s-2000s, Zion parish also offered German services for the Germanized Lithuanians of Lithuania Minor who spoke better German than Lithuanian, however, as their ranks became scarce, the German service has been canceled by the mid-2000s. When the entire Zion congregation sings hymns together, each person is permitted to choose his own language (English, Lithuanian or German) still. Another difference between the two parishes is the burial places: while Tėviškė members are usually buried in the Lithuanian National Cemetery, Zion members are often buried in the common American cemeteries.

However, both parishes have helped Lithuania after independence, promote Lithuanian activities and have attracted priests from Lithuania itself after Lithuania became independent and both have aligned with the Lithuanian Lutheran church. That said, Tėviškė parish is aligned only to the Lithuanian Lutheran church whereas Zion church also keeps its alignment to the Missouri Synod while the Lithuanian-Lutheran alignment is mostly a spiritual one.

Pilsen Lithuanian heritage

Back in the 1920s, Chicago had 12 Lithuanian Catholic parishes, each of them centering a Lithuanian community. One of the Chicago districts - Pilsen (north of Bridgeport) - even had two Lithuanian churches at once.

The Romance Revival church of Providence of God (1927) is the closest Lithuanian church to downtown (since the 1960s, the district population was replaced by Hispanics and the events there are now Spanish). It has been founded by St. George parishioners from Bridgeport. The rather grand interior includes authentic stained-glass windows and stations with the cross with Lithuanian inscriptions. The access is limited though as there is no regular mass. On the outside, next to a Lithuanian cornerstone there is another stone commemorating the fact that Providence of God was the sole Lithuanian church in Chicago to have Pope visiting it. This happened in 1979.

Next to the church stands the former Lithuanian school with cornerstone indicating its original purpose.

Providence of God Lithuanian church (right) and school (left)

Providence of God Lithuanian church (right) and school (left)

Providence of God Lithuanian church

Providence of God Lithuanian church

Lithuanian stations of the cross at the Providence of God church

Lithuanian stations of the cross at the Providence of God church

Cornerstone of the Providence of God Lithuanian church

Cornerstone of the Providence of God Lithuanian church

Pilsen's 2nd Lithuanian church was a more modest Our Lady of Vilna church and school (2327 W 23rd Place), now closed. The two-floored residential-like building used to host the church on the main floor and a parish school above it. The building was intended to be primarily a school, with the church temporarily located there before a bigger building is built (which never happened); that is why all the available inscriptions declare its school purpose ("Lithuanian Catholic school" above the entrance, "Lietuviška mokslaini Vilniaus Austros Vartu Š. M. P. Parakvijes", which in old Lithuanian language means "Lithuanian school of Our Lady of Gate of Dawn"). 1906 is inscribed as the date the construction began. After the parish has been closed, the parish name remained only in the relocated St Paul-Our Lady of Vilna school (closed 2013). Chicago Sun-Times reported an interesting story in 2013 of scrapyard worker noticing Lithuanian inscription on a bell and the diocese requiring it. It turns out this bell has disappeared from Our Lady of Vilna site after closure; it will now call the residents of Tinley Park suburb to prayer, thus itself completing a migration that so many did before: from the inner city to suburbs and from ethnic culture to "United American" culture. The inscription on the bell reads (reminding that Lithuania of 1900s-1918s was still under the rule of Russian Empire and giving reasons why Lithuanians migrated to Chicago so eagerly): "Bell, little bell, sorrowfully ring and proclaim the Miraculous Madonna of the Gate of Dawn in Lithuania, where our enemies suppress us. Our oppressed fellow countrymen are comforted. Call us to prayer, to the Church, in her name, so that we may feel a part of God’s flock. Call us three times daily, without fail, and the deceased lead with your sound. From this day forward, speak to the living, and accompany the dead to the cemetery".

Our Lady of Vilnius church/school in the Heart of Italy district of Chicago

Our Lady of Vilnius church/school in the Heart of Italy district of Chicago

Our Lady of Vilnius church/school in the Heart of Italy district of Chicago (cornerstone)

Our Lady of Vilnius church/school in the Heart of Italy district of Chicago (cornerstone)

Brighton Park Lithuanian church, school, monastery and Šauliai house

Brighton Park district west of former stockyards is now also largely Hispanic but its modernist Lithuanian Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (built in 1964, 2745 W. 44th St.). It includes numerous Lithuanian details in its interior, among which the most striking are the Our Lady of Šiluva shrine in a side-chapel, Divine Mercy shrine (based on the painting in Vilnius) in the other side-chapel, and the Our Lady of Šiluva stained-glass-window that is colored in the colors of the Lithuanian flag. The rest of the stained-glass windows also have Lithuanian donors written on them; the windows are not the traditional light European-style but rather they are made of large single-colored chunks of glass.

Brighton Park Lithuanian church of Immaculate Conception

Brighton Park Lithuanian church of Immaculate Conception

Our Lady of Šiluva side-chapel at the Brighton Park Lithuanian church of Immaculate Conception

Our Lady of Šiluva side-chapel at the Brighton Park Lithuanian church of Immaculate Conception

Stained glass windows of the Brighton Park Lithuanian church of Immaculate Conception with the Our Lady of Šiluva tricolor window on the right

Stained glass windows of the Brighton Park Lithuanian church of Immaculate Conception with the Our Lady of Šiluva tricolor window on the right

The parish dates to 1914 but like some other churches, this one was built post-WW2 to accommodate a major influx of Lithuanian refugees. An entire complex of buildings served them, including the Lithuanian school (1915) and Lithuanian convent (1925), both of which have their Lithuanian purpose inscribed on their facades (in English and Lithuanian) despite no longer being used for that purpose. Today, the parish is mostly Hispanic, and most of the masses are celebrated in Spanish although some are Lithuanian; Hispanic details (Our Lady of Guadalupe) have also been added to the church.

Brighton Park Lithuanian school cornerstone

Brighton Park Lithuanian school cornerstone

Entrance to the Brighton Park Lithuanian convent

Entrance to the Brighton Park Lithuanian convent

Still, Lithuanian details outnumber them. At the entrance of the church, a traditional Lithuanian cross stands built in 1987 in commemoration of the 600th anniversary of Christianity in Lithuania. It incorporates Lithuanian coat of arms in its design.

Brighton Park Lithuanian cross

Brighton Park Lithuanian cross

On the W 43rd (near S Western Ave) stands a small building belonging to the Lithuanian Rifleman Union (Šaulių sąjunga) known as the Šauliai House, its facade adorned in Lithuanian patriotic symbols since it has been acquired by the organization in 1975. Šauliai, variously translated as "Lithuanian Riflemen" or "Lithuanian National Guard", is a patriotic paramilitary organization used to be especially important in interwar Lithuania and then banned by Soviets (its members persecuted or killed). Like was the case with many such organizations, the survivors who fled Lithuania continued its existence in the USA. After independence Rifleman Union was reestablished in Lithuania as well but it didn't reach the pre-war glory. In America, Šauliai withered over the time as the original refugees died off and their children mostly did not join the organization. After independence, however, some new Šauliai from Lithuanian moved in or new immigrants decided to join the organization. In 2005, Šauliai House was acquired by one such recent immigrant who later joined Šauliai himself. It is now not only used for Šauliai meetings but also as a rental hall. The organization is much different today from what it was: it had some 1000 members once but just some 20 these days.

Šauliai House of Chicago at Brighton Park

Šauliai House of Chicago at Brighton Park

Brighton Park also had a Darius-Girėnas American Legion post 271, comprised mostly of ethnic Lithuanians. The post has sold its rather large building (corner of W 44th and S Western Ave) that once hosted many Lithuanian events and now meets at various locations. The post's former building is used as the "Way church".

Cicero Lithuanian heritage

Further west from the downtown Cicero has a massive St. Anthony Lithuanian church. Lithuanian, English and Spanish mass is now offered.

Cicero St. Anthony Lithuanian school and church

Cicero St. Anthony Lithuanian school and church

The Romanesque Revival church has been constructed in the interwar period and blessed by the Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis, holding the distinction of being a rare (or only) Chicago church dedicated by a person who was given the status of Blessed. The massive interior holds a side-altar dedicated to Matulaitis, a Matulaitis stained-glass window (on the right near the roof). There is also a stained-glass window with Vytis, the coat of arms of Lithuania (left side near the roof) donated by the Knights of Lithuania, a Lithuanian chapel-post and many Lithuanian inscriptions (under each old station of the cross, over the Virgin Mary statue). The cornerstone lists the 1925 date.

Cicero St. Anthony Lithuanian church

Cicero St. Anthony Lithuanian church

Cicero St. Anthony Lithuanian church (interior)

Cicero St. Anthony Lithuanian church (interior)

Lithuanian-inscribed station of the cross at the Cicero St. Anthony Lithuanian church

Lithuanian-inscribed station of the cross at the Cicero St. Anthony Lithuanian church

Stained glass windows with the Lithuanian surnames of the donors at the Cicero St. Anthony Lithuanian church

Stained glass windows with the Lithuanian surnames of the donors at the Cicero St. Anthony Lithuanian church

Cicero St. Anthony Lithuanian church (interior)

Cicero St. Anthony Lithuanian church (interior)

Cicero St. Anthony Lithuanian church (interior)

Cicero St. Anthony Lithuanian church (interior)

In front of the church stands a unique plastic chapel-post, donated by Msgr. Albavičius and built by a famous Lithuanian-American architect Jonas Mulokas to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Lithuanian independence in 1698 (which was a sad date, actually, as Lithuania was then under "deep" and seemingly invincible Soviet occupation). Lithuanian chapel-posts are a UNESCO-recognized form of ethnic art, however, they are traditionally wooden. Yet in this case, a former 1950 Lithuanian wooden cross that stood on-site has been destroyed by parasites, prompting the parish to request a "more eternal" plastic sculpture in its place. The church itself has been also expanded during the 50s, adding the front extention in historicist style.

Plastic chapel-post by Jonas Mulokas at the Cicero St. Anthony Lithuanian church

Plastic chapel-post by Jonas Mulokas at the Cicero St. Anthony Lithuanian church with the Mulokas chapel-post

Next to the church stands unusually massive St. Anthony Lithuanian school which has its Lithuanian name chiseled in large letters above the entrance. Both buildings look especially impressive from the intersection of S 49th and 15th streets.

Cicero St. Anthony Lithuanian school

Cicero St. Anthony Lithuanian school

The third building with Lithuania-related inscriptions in the area is the Lithuanian Liberty Hall (Lietuvių laisvės salė, 1921), often associated with communists. Once, Lithuanian communists were quite a significant part of the Cicero Lithuanian community, so much so that they held regular protests against the church construction while it was under construction (something that was later banned by courts). While the "Liberty Hall" has been used into the 1960s, after the Soviet occupation showed the "real face of communism" the communist ranks among Lithuanians declined to a small minority, so the Hall was sold and is now partly abandoned.

Lithuanian Liberty Hall of Cicero

Lithuanian Liberty Hall of Cicero

Lithuanian Liberty Hall of Cicero

Lithuanian Liberty Hall of Cicero

There is also a building on the 15th street with letters "P. JUKNIS 1912" written near its top, eternalizing its Lithuanian builder. Once, many local buildings had Lithuanian owners, there were as much as 10 Lithuanian pubs alone in the area. Currently, however, Cicero is predominantly Hispanic but it has not gained such a bad reputation as South Chicago so some Lithuanians still live in the district, attending the church.

P. Juknis building

P. Juknis building

Chicago far southside Lithuanian heritage

The Chicago districts further south have smaller Lithuanian communities and smaller churches than those cathedral-like edifices closer to the downtown - however, some of these churches have interesting architecture and histories. Those areas are currently nearly completely inhabited by Blacks. The small Lithuanian districts there all collapsed very early and very quickly (most churches closed ~1970s-1980s after most Lithuanians left and other institutions, e.g. Lithuanian schools, have been closed even earlier).

The most interesting there is All Saints Lithuanian church in Roseland (0,42% White district today) with a semi-open metal tower that has been inspired by traditional Lithuanian chapel-posts as well as, arguably, art nouveau. It has been designed by a famous Lithuanian interwar modernist architect S. Kudokas who, like many other architects and many additional members of the congregation, fled Lithuania to avoid being murdered by the Soviets. Kudokas was a modernist in Lithuania, responsible for many significant buildings in the interwar Kaunas which now has a UNESCO World Heritage application. After arrival in America, Kudokas criticised his colleague Jonas Mulokas who attempted to create a modern ethnic Lithuanian style in place of international functionalism. In his All Saints church, though, Kudokas himself has emulated Mulokas's style in creating a "non-wooden chapel-post" on the tower. The history of the All Saints church illustrates the history of the entire South Chicago: the parish has constructed this new church in 1960, still expecting a long existence and growth. Then, however, the white flight took place and by 1972 already the Lithuanian parish was closed. It has been sold to the Baptists in 1989 (a more popular faith among Blacks than Catholicism). The Lithuanian details, ethnic art remains, although the Lithuanian name above the door of the church has been covered. The survival of the church still is not easy at it has been robbed numerous times recently.

Roseland All Saints Lithuanian church

Roseland All Saints Lithuanian church

South Chicago area is only 1,92% White. Its small single-floored St. Joseph Lithuanian church (8801 S Saginaw) has been closed in 1986, became part of McKinley public school (itself built in 1953 as parish school) that is now closed. A former priest's house stands next, it is older and more interesting; the priest Antanas Petraitis was interested in science and had Illinois's second largest telescope there and also had a small animal sanctuary between the buildings. Some say the church remained so small because of the priest investing much to the science.

St. Joseph Lithuanian church

St. Joseph Lithuanian church

St. Casimir Lithuanian church of Chicago Heights (283 E 14th Street) suffered a similar fate (closed 1987). It looks like a century-old residential. Its two floors used to house a school as well as a church. Such practice was very common in Chicago, whereby a parish would have constructed such a "regular building" first that would have included its all activities and, having collected more donations, would have constructed a "true church" nearby, leaving the old building to the likely-now-expanded school. St. Casimir of Chicago Heights, however, never got to build the second building as it withered and died with Lithuanians moving elsewhere. Just like on Holy Cross the former fashion to inscribe institution names on stone led to the survival of its Lithuanian name. Empty lots are now all around the building.

Chicago Heights Lithuanian church

Chicago Heights Lithuanian church

Chicago Heights Lithuanian church cornerstone

Chicago Heights Lithuanian church cornerstone

The only area's Lithuanian church to remain in Catholic use is St. Peter and Paul church in West Pullman (12433 S Halsted St). The building modernist with some gothic inspirations (built 1959). The parish has been established in 1913 and celebrated centenary in 2013 but it has nothing to do with Lithuanians today. Unlike in Roseland (All Saints), the West Pullman church was constructed at the time some parishioners were already non-Lithuanian, so it has few Lithuanian details (the only Lithuanian details are the historical images and newspaper clippings near the entrance that remind of the past Lithuanian priests, the cornerstone that mentions priest Petrauskas and the name of the church's hall that is named after the church's final Lithuanian priest Brinkis). West Pullman is only 0,56% White and the Lithuanian share is now negligible. Pullman was once famous for its world-class factory of railway carriages. Modern Far South Chicago, however, differs from that of 1900-1915 (when most Lithuanian parishes were established) like day and night. The industry collapsed ~1970, the ethnic groups are also all different.

Ss. Peter and Paul Lithuanian church of West Pullman

Ss. Peter and Paul Lithuanian church of West Pullman

Ss. Peter and Paul Lithuanian church of West Pullman

Ss. Peter and Paul Lithuanian church of West Pullman

Two pastor images at the Ss. Peter and Paul Lithuanian church - the first one of them is Lithuanian, and the second one is African American (after the change in the parish demography)

Two pastor images at the Ss. Peter and Paul Lithuanian church - the first one of them is Lithuanian, and the second one is African American (after the change in the parish demography)

West Pullman also has the old Ss. Peter and Paul Lithuanian school-church surviving - there, a Lithuanian cornerstone says in the old Lithuanian language that it is a "mokslainė" (today school is called "mokykla"). The church is no longer Catholic.

Old Ss. Peter and Paul Lithuanian church of West Pullman which served as a school

Old Ss. Peter and Paul Lithuanian church of West Pullman which served as a school

Lithuanian cemeteries in southern Chicago

Deceased Chicago Lithuanians used to be buried in Lithuanian cemeteries since well before World War 1. There are two cemeteries: the Catholic St. Casimir and the National which originally started as non-Catholic but today includes many Catholics as well. Both cemeteries are notable for great numbers of grand tombstones, hundreds of them crafted in the mid-20th century by a famous tomb creator Ramojus Mozoliauskas. These tombstones are sculpture-like and are often adorned in Lithuanian symbols as Lithuanians felt extremely sad about the loss of their homeland to the Soviets and thus used Lithuanian symbolism lots. There are even direct references to the exile. Among the earlier tombstones it is interesting to see many surviving images of the deceased people, dating even to the pre-WW1 era, something that is far more rare in smaller towns, let alone Lithuania itself, where photography was still not that accessible back in those days.

Lithuanian coat of arms land art at the St. Casimir Lithuanian cemetery of Chicago

Lithuanian coat of arms land art at the St. Casimir Lithuanian cemetery of Chicago

Both Lithuanian-American cemeteries in Chicago arguably are both prettier and more extensive than any other Lithuanian-American cemeteries and are well worth to walk around even for non-Lithuanians. Both have more famous Lithuanians buried there than are buried in many of the cemeteries in Lithuania itself.

St. Casimir Catholic Cemetery is the larger and older one, established in 1903 at the extreme south of Chicago. So great it is that it has been included in the "199 cemeteries to see before you die" book alongside such world-famous "giants" as Paris's Per-Lachese or Arlington Cemetery.

St. Casimir Lithuanian cemetery of Chicago

St. Casimir Lithuanian cemetery of Chicago

The entrance plaque "Lithuanian Cemetery" was removed in 1997. This is not the first such move - in 1965 Cardinal Cody removed the word "Lithuanian" from the cemetery's official name, leading to mass demonstrations of post-war Lithuanian refugees. This is one of many similar episodes in the history of Lithuanian Chicagoans. E.g. in 1972 local Lithuanians chartered a plane to Rome in order to protest in St. Peter square against the presenting of first Holy Communion to Lithuanian children in the English language.

Latin Americans (today the largest Catholic community of Chicago) now have joined Lithuanians in the St. Casimir Cemetery rows. Yet the massive Lithuanian gravestones, built throughout eight previous decades, far outflank small American plaques. It seems that an entire major city is buried here and everywhere the surnames are Lithuanian, some of them shortened or spelled in English. Also, not far beyond the main entrance, there is a Lithuanian coat of arms land art that still firmly marks the cemetery as Lithuanian. On the northeastern corner of the cemetery, there is also a Memorial for the 12 Lithuanian parishes of Chicago which has established the cemetery (as of 2018, only 6 of their churches are operational as Catholic churches and only 3 still offer Lithuanian mass). The memorial includes traditional Lithuanian roof-horses, sun-cross and an authentic bell of a Lithuanian church in its design.

Memorial of the 12 Lithuanian parishes that established the St. Casimir Lithuanian cemetery of Chicago

Memorial of the 12 Lithuanian parishes that established the St. Casimir Lithuanian cemetery of Chicago

Among the famous Lithuanians interred in the St. Casimir cemetery are:
*Lithuanian general Povilas Plechavičius (1890-1973) who moved to the USA as a refugee in 1949. He is famous for being the leader of the 1926 coup that has established Smetona's regime and later for his successful sabotaging of Nazi German plans by disbanding the Lithuanian soldiers after he learned that Nazi Germany planned to raise a Lithuanian SS division out of them (therefore, thanks to Plechavičius, there was no Lithuanian SS division, while there were Latvian and Estonian SS divisions).

General Povilas Plechavičius grave

General Povilas Plechavičius grave

*Lithuanian geographer Kazys Pakštas (1893-1960), well-known for his ideas to create a "second Lithuania" by acquiring and colonizing some land in Africa or South America. He expressed these ideas because he saw that Lithuania itself is in constant danger while the Lithuanian emigrants assimilate into foreign cultures; so, he wanted to create a land where Lithuanian culture could exist more safely and not assimilate. In his days (between WW1 and WW2) his ideas were seen as utopian, however, in the same fashion as Nicola Tesla, Pakštas gained much more attention later when his predictions of the occupation of Lithuania and assimilation of the Lithuanian diaspora did indeed come true.

Kazys Pakštas grave

Kazys Pakštas grave

*Lithuanian-American poet Algimantas Mackus (1932-1964), notable for his existentialist poems. He is considered a part of the so-called "landless" generation of authors that began their creations outside Lithuania but still considered Lithuania their sole homeland, which made their works permeated with indescribable longing for something lost.

Poet Algimantas Mackus grave in the St. Casimir Lithuanian cemetery of Chicago

Poet Algimantas Mackus grave in the St. Casimir Lithuanian cemetery of Chicago

*Chicago-born Lithuanian archbishop Paul Marcinkus (1922-2006), who essentially served as a bodyguard for popes and saved lives of two popes. He also served as the head of the Vatican bank, although his tenure there was marred in scandals. Even then he is said to have secretly come to his childhood Lithuanian church of St. Anthony in Cicero to hold mass there. Unlike many other graves in the cemetery, Marcinkus's grave is rather modest.

Archibishop Paul Marcinkus graveArchibishop Paul Marcinkus grave

Archibishop Paul Marcinkus grave

*Antanas Vanagaitis (1890-1949), a Lithuanian musician who, after emigrating to the USA soon after World War 1, established a Lithuanian radio in Chicago and also created numerous famous Lithuanian songs.

Antanas Vanagaitis grave at St. Casimir Lithuanian cemetery of Chicago

Antanas Vanagaitis grave at St. Casimir Lithuanian cemetery of Chicago

Moreover, St. Casimir cemetery also became a major zone for important non-grave Lithuanian memorials. The most famous is the first-in-the-world memorial for Romas Kalanta that was built in 1979, the same decade as the young Kaunas guy self-immolated against the Soviet regime. The author was Ramojus Mozoliauskas and the donors were Riflemen (Šauliai) Union. The memorial is dedicated (in Lithuanian) to "Romas Kalanta and everyone who has died for Lithuanian freedom fighting the red tyrant" (i.e. the Soviet Union).

Romas Kalanta memorial at the St. Casimir Lithuanian cemetery of Chicago

Romas Kalanta memorial at the St. Casimir Lithuanian cemetery of Chicago

In 1984, a memorial to Lithuania's sole saint (and patron saint) St. Casimir has been constructed, commemorating 500 years since his birth. The memorial has images of Vilnius, at the time beyond the Iron Curtain for the Lithuanian-Americans.

St. Casimir statue at the St. Casimir Lithuanian cemetery of Chicago

St. Casimir statue at the St. Casimir Lithuanian cemetery of Chicago

The cemetery also has a small memorial to Our Lady of Šiluva, Europe's first church-recognized Maryan vision (which happened in Lithuania).

Our Lady of Šiluva monument in the St. Casimir Lithuanian cemetery of Chicago

Our Lady of Šiluva monument in the St. Casimir Lithuanian cemetery of Chicago

In the north side of the cemetery, there are large burial plots and memorials for particular people and organizations. There is a field where Lithuanian priests of Chicago are buried, next to the burial area for St. Casimir sisters and Lithuanian Jesuit fathers, all of them having neat memorials. Next to them stands a Memorial for the Darius-Girėnas post of the American Legion, which is a unique ethnically-based Lithuanian post in what is an American veteran organization. The memorial incorporates pieces of artillery.

Lithuanian priests memorial at the end of a long field in the St. Casimir Lithuanian cemetery of Chicago wher ethe Lithuanian priests are buried

Lithuanian priests memorial at the end of a long field in the St. Casimir Lithuanian cemetery of Chicago wher ethe Lithuanian priests are buried

Jesuit Fathers memorial at the St. Casimir Lithuanian cemetery of Chicago

Jesuit Fathers memorial at the St. Casimir Lithuanian cemetery of Chicago

St. Casimir Sisters memorial and burial site

St. Casimir Sisters memorial and burial site

Another Lithuanian cemetery is next to a small forest outside the official borders of Chicago. This is the multi-denominational Lithuanian National Cemetery and the word "Lithuanian" remains in the official name. It was established in 1911 when a local priest refused to bury Lithuanians who did not actively participated in Lithuanian Catholic communities in the St. Casimir Cemetery.

Art-deco-styled office of the Lithuanian National Cemetery of Chicago

Art-deco-styled office of the Lithuanian National Cemetery of Chicago

The Lithuanian National Cemetery is located at a rather secluded spot and has many trees, making it double as a nice Lithuanian park. Many of the gravestones there are especially ethnic in design as they have been constructed by those who fled the Soviet occupation and were especially patriotic. The cemetery is open every day from 8AM to 5-6PM.

An old grave with image of the deceased in the Lithuanian National Cemetery of Chicago

An old grave with image of the deceased in the Lithuanian National Cemetery of Chicago

Grave images at the Lithuanian National Cemetery of Chicago

Grave images at the Lithuanian National Cemetery of Chicago

The National Cemetery starts with a pretty entrance square, surrounded by the cemetery gate, art-deco-styled cemetery office (some urns are kept inside the office) as well as the memorial to the founders of the cemetery (14 Lithuanian non-Catholic organizations), erected in 1982. All the cemetery directors are listed on this memorial as well.

Monument to the founders of the Lithuanian National Cemetery of Chicago

Monument to the founders of the Lithuanian National Cemetery of Chicago

There are some 13500 burials in the National Cemetery. Among those buried here are:
*The 1925-1926 President of Lithuania Kazys Grinius (actually, he was never interred under the monument built for him and his urn was repatriated to Lithuania in 1994)

President of Lithuania Kazys Grinius monument

President of Lithuania Kazys Grinius monument

*Dr. Jonas Šliūpas, most famous in the USA as he agitated Lithuanians to separate from the Roman Catholic church, the idea that formed part of the drive to create ethnically-based cemeteries. He did, in fact, came back to Lithuania after the 1918 independence and served as a mayor of Palanga there; he died in Europe, but his body was still brought back to the USA where most of his major life works took place.

Jonas Šliūpas grave at the Lithuanian National Cemetery of Chicago

Jonas Šliūpas grave at the Lithuanian National Cemetery of Chicago

*Marius Katiliškis, a famous Lithuanian writer.
*Kazys Bobelis, a Lithuanian-American who returned to Lithuania after 1990 to become a popular politician and a presidential candidate there.

Politician Kazys Bobelis grave

Politician Kazys Bobelis grave

*Jonas Budrys, a leader of the Klaipėda Revolt that attached Klaipėda to Lithuania in 1923.
*Adomas Varnas, the painter who designed the original (1922) Lithuanian Litas banknotes.

An interesting grave is that of Karlis Požėla where this Lithuanian boxing coach is buried with his most famous pupil, Maurice Tillet (French Angel) who was not a Lithuanian himself. The epitaph is "Friends whom even death couldn't part".

Maurice Tillet and Karolis Požėla mutual grave at the Lithuanian National Cemetery of Chicago

Maurice Tillet and Karolis Požėla mutual grave at the Lithuanian National Cemetery of Chicago

Additionally, the cemetery became a popular place to build general memorials to various Lithuanian groups.

On the rightwards path going from the entrance, you can see Darius-Girėnas post of American Legion monument that includes several pieces of artillery and is a focal point in Memorial day celebrations. The memorial looks quite similar to the St. Casimir cemetery one.

American Legion Darius and Girėnas post memorial in the Lithuanian National Cemetery of Chicago

American Legion Darius and Girėnas post memorial in the Lithuanian National Cemetery of Chicago

Further on, there is a traditional wooden cross dedicated to 300000+ people expelled from Lithuania by the Soviet occupational regime in 1940-1941 and 1944-1953, commissioned by the Pakalka family in 1994. It is also notable for having attracted priests to bless it and the surrounding ground, this way effectively ending the belief held by some Catholics that National Cemetery is only for the non-believers. So-much-so that the Lithuanian Catholic organization Knights of Lithuania, as well as Boy scouts (2018, author Vilnius Buntinas) have also erected their memorials in this cemetery rather than St. Casimir's.

Memorial to the exiled Lithuanians in the Lithuanian National Cemetery of Chicago

Memorial to the exiled Lithuanians in the Lithuanian National Cemetery of Chicago

Additional memorials in the cemetery are dedicated to the Lithuanian Freemasons (with the leaders of the 1951 "Lithuanian craftsman club" listed on its back) and the author of Lithuanian National anthem Vincas Kudirka (1961).

Lithuanian freemasons memorial

Lithuanian freemasons memorial

Vincas Kudirka Memorial at the Lithuanian National Cemetery of Chicago

Vincas Kudirka Memorial at the Lithuanian National Cemetery of Chicago

Initially, the cemetery has been used by various non-Catholic groups, including leftists, National Catholics, Lutherans (especially the Tėviškė parish). Later on, the Catholics have gradually joined them and, with delituanization of the St. Casimir Cemetery, this became the sole truly Lithuanian cemetery in the Chicagoland (the administration is Lithuanian as well).

Among the early burials, the most controversial are the six gravestones with communist symbols as Lithuanian communists have also used the cemetery. Later on, as the Soviet occupation of Lithuania proved disastrous and Chicago became overflooded with new refugees from Lithuania who left everything to avoid living under the communist rule, the communist symbols were banned in the cemetery. Ironically, ~1990 as Lithuania was approaching independence, the cemetery was vandalized with Swasticas, equalizing Lithuanians buried there with Nazis.

A Soviet-symbols-clad memorial in the Lithuanian National Cemetery of Chicago

A Soviet-symbols-clad memorial in the Lithuanian National Cemetery of Chicago

As times went on, the numbers of annual burials in the cemetery have decreased as significant numbers of the descendants of Lithuanians are of mixed ancestry and no longer seek to be buried in Lithuanian cemetery. Because of this, the cemetery has sold off much of its additional space for residential developments and survives on the money received in this sale. A part of the cemetery has been also defined as a park area meant for green burials.

The infamous Chicago legend of Ressurection Mary (about a ghost girl that appears to drivers) is also related to the Lithuanian cemeteries. One of the possible girls whose ghost supposedly haunts Chicago is Ona Norkus, buried in the St. Casimir Cemetery. However, when a film was made about the legend, the crew picked the Lithuanian National Cemetery for filming, presumably because of its rather secluded and wooded location.

Lemont and the current heart of Chicago Lithuanian community

In the deep southwest of Chicagoland lies the modern heart of the Chicago Lithuanian community. After the disintegration of Marquette Park, there is no longer any district where Lithuanians would make more than a few percents of the population. But in the automobile-loving USA driving 10 or 20 km is no obstacle.

Main sign of the Lithuanian World Center

Main sign of the Lithuanian World Center

In 1987 the "Lithuanian World Center" was opened in Lemont suburb. Various events such as concerts and Chicago Lithuanian Basketball League matches are held there (basketball is the Lithuania's national sport and the Chicago League was established in 2003; its ~15 teams play using the FIBA rather than NBA rules) while the America's largest Lithuanian-language school operates every Friday evening and Saturday, attracting some 700 kids. The center is usually open to everybody as there are many Lithuanian activities and possibilities inside with as many as 39 Lithuanian organizations having their hubs in its 14 000 square meters of space. Around the center, you'll rarely hear English language but people in the center can speak it.

As the World Center has been bought from non-Lithuanians (originally it served as a priest seminary), it is rather functional in style lacks any Lithuanian architectural details. However, that is more than compensated by the increasingly lithuanized interiors and Lithuanian activities.

Main ballroom of the Lithuanian World Center

Main ballroom of the Lithuanian World Center

At the heart of the World Center is Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis Catholic church which effectively serves as the US newest Lithuanian ethnic parish. Unlike most ethnic parishes, it has limited Lithuanian details due to its non-Lithuanian history, but Lithuanians tried to change that over the time, installing a Jurgis Matulaitis statue, Lithuanian carved wooden door, a memorial to the suffering of Lithuania, etc.

Lithuanian World Center chapel

Lithuanian World Center chapel

Jurgis Matulaitis at the Lithuanian World Center chapel

Jurgis Matulaitis at the Lithuanian World Center chapel

Among other key institutions, there are the numerous Lithuanain museums (open on weekends only or by appointment). The most impressive among them is the Museum of traditional folk art that probably have the best collection of Lithuanian folk art in America. There is a hall of wooden sculptures, some of which have political commentary (like a sculpture of Hitler and Stalin torturing Lithuania), while others are more traditional holy figures or devils. There is a corridor of wooden representations of the leaders of Grand Duchy of Lithuania. There are quality examples of Lithuanian folk costumes, verbos (that replace palms in the Vilnius region Palm Sunday) and looms used to weave textile.

Lithuanian wooden arts at the Lemont museum

Lithuanian wooden arts at the Lemont museum

Lithuanian wooden arts at the Lemont museum

Lithuanian wooden arts at the Lemont museum

Lithuanian wooden arts at the Lemont museum

Lithuanian wooden arts at the Lemont museum

Near the entrance to the museum you can find Siela gallery which is used for temporary exhibits from Lithuanian artists, while one hall is dedicated to a more permanent collection of non-folk art.

Additionally, the surroundings of the World Center received numerous Lithuanian monuments. The most impressive collection of them is the Lemont Hill of Crosses inspired by the famous Hill of Crosses near Šiauliai, Lithuania. Currently, it has some 80 crosses, most of them of the traditional Lithuanian wooden form that is considered immaterial UNESCO world heritage. Like in the real Hill of Crosses, some of the crosses are erected by common people who do that in memory of their relatives, sometimes victims of the Soviet Genocide. Some of the crosses have been erected by organizations, such as the Lithuanian scouts. Some of the crosses have been moved in to the Hill of Crosses from various private yards of Lithuanian-Americans: for the refugee generation, it was common to erect such reminders of the homeland on their yard, however, their kids often want to redecorate the yard or, more likely, simply sell the house, so, they may donate the crosses to the Lithuanian World Center. Yet other crosses (or other memorials) have been built to commemorate particular events, for example, the battle of Žalgiris or the Christianization of Lithuania. Many crosses also have patriotic symbols on them, while one memorial built in 1998 has a poem "Not our land" on it about longing for the lost homeland.

Lemont Hill of Crosses entrance with the first three words of the Lithuanian National Anthem (Lithuania, our homeland) inscribed

Lemont Hill of Crosses entrance with the first three words of the Lithuanian National Anthem (Lithuania, our homeland) inscribed

Lemont Hill of Crosses

Lemont Hill of Crosses

Battle of Žalgiris (Grunewald) memorial at the Lemont Hill of Crosses

Battle of Žalgiris (Grunewald) memorial at the Lemont Hill of Crosses

At the center of the Hill of Crosses a 1917 bell is erected. The bell is from the Gary Lithuanian church in Indiana that has been closed. It is used as a symbol of the closed Lithuanian-American churches. At the entrance of the Hill there are three crosses with words "Lietuva, Tėvyne mūsų" (Lithuania, our Fatherland), which are also the first three words of the Lithuanian national anthem.

On the bottom of the Hill of Crosses stands the Memorial for Lithuanian partisans and people expelled to Siberia styled as a weeping mother of a victim of the Soviet regime and a bunch of fallen leaves. Built by one of the most productive Lithuanian-American sculptors Ramojus Mozoliauskas, it commemorates some 30 000 anti-Soviet guerillas who fell in the last-ditch attempt to restore free Lithuania (1944-1953) and up to 400 000 people expelled by the Soviets to Siberia, many of them to meet their deaths there. It was that Soviet genocide that caused so many Lithuanians to leave Lithuania as refugees in 1944 before the Soviet re-occupation; ultimately, most of those refugees ended up in the USA and it was them who eventually were the driving force behind the creation of the Lithuanian World Center in Lemont.

Mother of a partisan memorial next to the Lithuanian World Center in Lemont

Mother of a partisan memorial next to the Lithuanian World Center in Lemont

At the entrance of the Lithuanian World Center itself, there is a composition of three Lithuanian chapel-posts (koplytstulpiai).

While the Lithuanian World Center is the most famous Lithuanian site in Lemont by far, it was actually not the first one. Lithuanians were buying real estate in Lemont sometime before that already, and so did the Ateitininkai Lithuanian Christian organization. The Ateitininkai Home feels more like a palace of a large landowner in the suburban England. In fact, it was built in 1952 as a palace of a millionaire Schmidt who made his fortune through war industry; according to Ateitininkai members, even the US president Dwight Eisenhower was a guest at the palace back then; the palace then had a bar and even a bowling alley in the basement. The palace was acquired by Ateitininkai in 1978, under an initiative of 10 Lithuanian doctors who all immigrated to the USA as refugees in the 1950s.

Ateitininkai Home

Ateitininkai Home

Serene hall of the Ateitininkai Home

Serene hall of the Ateitininkai Home

Ateitininkai is a Lithuanian Christian organization, one of many Lithuanian organizations that were destroyed by the Soviet regime only to be reborn in the USA. Ateitininkai Home is used for various organizational activities, meetings of Ateitinkai kids, as well as rentals for weddings which helps sustain the palace. Given the patriotic and religious nature of the organization, it has collected Lithuanian and Christian artifacts in its halls over the time. Two large traditional Lithuanian chapel-posts and one cross have been erected in front of the palace, most are relocated from other places where they were in danger of destruction. One of them, a metal chapel-post (koplytstulpis) has been relocated from a now-closed Lithuanian Farmstead in Marquette Park (originally designed by famous architects Mulokas and made by A. Janonis in 1973). Another chapel-post, originally created for a private home of Dr. Adomavičius in 1966 and relocated after that home was sold, has been dedicated to the Lithuanian anti-Soviet partisan Juozas Lukša-Daumantas and repaired by a "Godmaker" A. Poskočimas. Yet another cross is a donation of Antanas Poskočimas (1983) and renovated by Dainius Kopūstas (2014); it represents a traditional Lithuanian roadside cross.

A chapel-post (koplytstulpis) dedicated to Juozas Lukša-Daumantas at Ateitininkai Home

A chapel-post (koplytstulpis) dedicated to Juozas Lukša-Daumantas at Ateitininkai Home

Jonas Mulokas chapel-post at Ateitininkai Home

Jonas Mulokas chapel-post at Ateitininkai Home

The alley leading to Ateitininkai home has a Lithuanian sign "A. Pargausko alėja".

Famous Lithuanian burials outside Chicago Lithuanian cemeteries

Most famous Lithuanians were buried in the Lithuanian cemeteries - however, not every one of them. Interesting Lithuanian graves elsewhere includes that of a science fiction writer Algis Budrys (Algirdas Budrys, incorrectly spelled as Algidras Budrys on the grave plaque) in the Maryhill Polish cemetery. He wrote in English, so he is among the Lithuanians that are more famous in the USA than Lithuania itself.

Algirdas Budrys grave in Chicago (inscribed with a mistake)

Algirdas Budrys grave in Chicago (inscribed with a mistake)

Then there is a mysterious 19th-century grave of Dzialinskis-Kenkelis in the Oakwoods cemetery that claims that the person who is buried there was the Great Bannerbearer of Lithuania. He is also called to be Djialinski of Szodeiken, while his wife supposedly was Isabelle Djialinska, Countess of Szodeiken and also a princess of Czartoryski family.

Dzialinskis-Kenkelis grave

Dzialinskis-Kenkelis grave

The grave has long been a mystery to local Lithuanians. As Lithuania did no longer exist at the time Dzialinskis-Kenkelis was born, it is unclear whether the "titles" written are meant to be the titles somebody from his family had before the collapse of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (1795), or were they titles he held during the anti-Russian uprising in 1863. Given the lack of information about this person in Lithuania itself, it is very possible he actually just impersonated to be somebody of importance when in the United States - something allowed by the vast distances, limited communications at the time and thus an inability of any American to check his stories. In any case, the grave is interesting and its existence was even romanticized during the Soviet occupation of Lithuania as the grave provided a kind of a link between the Lithuanian-Americans and the glorious pre-modern Lithuanian history.

Lithuanian-related sites in northern Chicago

While most immigrants from Lithuania have settled in the less fancy southern Chicago, the northern Chicago once also had a Lithuanian church, dedicated to St. Michael (since demolished with nothing Lithuanian remaining in the surrounding district).

The site of St. Michael Lithuanian church in North Chicago

The site of St. Michael Lithuanian church in North Chicago

The area also has Telshe yeshiva - a Jewish religious school named after the Lithuanian town of Telšiai. The history of the name is such: the yeshiva was established by the identically named Telshe yeshiva of Cleveland, which was in turn established by the teachers of the original Telšiai yeshiva after it was closed down by the Soviet occupational force.

Telshe Yeshiva of Chicago

Telshe Yeshiva of Chicago

A larger Lithuanian community exists in the suburb of Waukegan. As the suburb is far from Chicago center, it is described in a separate article.

Maps of Chicago Lithuanian heritage

Map of the Lithuanian heritage in entire Chicagoland.

Map of the Lithuanian heritage in Southside Chicago.

Map of the Lithuanian heritage in Marquette Park (Chicago Lawn, Lithuania Plaza) area of Chicago.

Map of the Lithuanian heritage in Bridgeport area of Chicago.

Click to learn more about Lithuania: Illinois, USA Leave a comment
Comments (127) Trackbacks (0)
  1. “Draugas” yra lietuviu nuosavybe, pelno nesiekiantis laikrastis, ir nekonkuruoja su “Cikagos Aidu”. “Draugas” turi interneto svetaine – http://www.Draugas.org , Minetas “Aidas” yra rusu bendroves “Ethnic-Media” nuosavybe, kuri leidzia laikrascius rusu kalba, ir islaikomas prekybininku apmokamais skelbimais. Negalima traktuoti “Cikagos Aido” kaip lietuviu spauda.

  2. YOU DID A WONDERFULL JOB, IAM PROUD AND HAPPY TO FIND YOU ON THE INTERNET, YOUR SERVICE TO THE LITHUANIAN HISTORIANS WILL BE GREATLY APPRECIATED. I FOR ONE THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE. TALK TO YOU LATER!

  3. Hello,

    My name is David Lisker, I am artistic director and violinist at the Lisker Music Foundation (non profit organization based in Northbrook, IL). One of the many ways we aim to support the music scene in Chicago is by presenting world class concerts in the Chicagoland. We have one such concert scheduled for February 28 at the Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston. The concert will feature a fantastic Lithuanian pianist Andrius Zlabys. He has performed all over the world, graduated from the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, and has been nominated for a Grammy for a recording he made with Gidon Kremer. I would really love to spread the word among the rich Lithuanian community, I was hoping you might be able to help me. If you have some interest in this, I would love to discuss it further.

    thank you so much and Happy New Year!

  4. Graziai padaryta.

    Good job. However it should be noted that Our Lady of Vilna Church has not been demolished . It was closed and sold to the Chicago Public School system. It is currently again for sale. The original, very simple, leaded glass windows were given to the Balzekas Museum. The colored glass modern altar backdrops by Adolfas Valeska were moved to the Lithuanian Mission (Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis Mission) some years ago. Again it has not beed demolished yet. What has been demolished is St. George’s in Bridgeport and St. Michael’s in the Bucktown neighborhood (near north) in Chicago.

    Also check out the new English language paper Draugas News http://www.draugasnews.org

    Sekmes

    Saulius K

    • Thank you for the information. I haven’t found the Our Lady of Vilna church (I have not been to the place myself when I visited Chicago, just checked there via Google Street View) so I assumed it has been destroyed (as the address of Our Lady of Vilna I found online is now occupied by some private home, but probably that address is incorrect). Could you give me the true address so I could check it on the Street View? Also, where exactly was the St. Michael’s located?

      • ihave some pictures of the churches. I was going to do a book but that fell through. As well as the book on my grandmother Baroness Kazis Zlatarinskas. If you ar einterested I can send you some pictures.

        Mark

        • Thank you, I have contacted you by e-mail.

        • i have been looking for photos or copies of ptyos of St georges catholic church on 33 st and Iithuanica st. I am a 76 year old Polish man living in Texas and went to school and church there in the late 40’s and early 50’s. It made me cry to hear about the school, rectory and church being demolished.I went to Armour in my first 4 years then St George. I lived on 33 rd st.between Halsted and Lithuanica. Living on the 3rd floor the tower clock was visible to me all the time.I was happy to hear the organ ,alter and some other parts of the church were sent back to where they were made. Lithuania. All I have been able to see is renderings of the church. I would like to have a picture of the church since I’m relocating to the Philippines and am making a scrap book of my youth. thank you

      • I attended Our Lady of Vilna in the 1950s. I don’t know the exact address, but it’s on W 23rd Pl, between Western and Oakley. Here’s the Google street view:
        https://www.google.com/maps/@41.849342,-87.68382,3a,75y,207.09h,95.49t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sY6IJfP77n5K93xJ6KHUoaQ!2e0

        • I see, thank you. I thought this building used to serve as the parish school, but so the same building used to serve as the church as well?

          • In the 50s, Our Lady of Vilna Church was on the main floor, the school on the upper floor, and the church hall in the basement. The church hall was used for school programs (there was a stage), bingo, and at one point the school kids were allowed to roller skate in the church hall one evening a week. Good memories!

        • In case anyone is interested, here are a couple of 1950s class photos from Our Lady of Vilna School: https://flic.kr/p/58nV9q and https://flic.kr/p/58iKpB.

          • OUR LADY OF VILNIUS BELL WAS FOUND IN A JUNK YARD AND A CHURCH IN ORLAND PARK OR TINLEY PARK WILL BE USING IT AS THEIR NEW CHURCH BELL; IT HAS LITHUANIAN WORDS AN WAS LOST FOR 30 YEARS ; PLEASE SEE IF YOU CAN FIND THE CHURCH.

      • I lived across the street from St. Michael’s and went to St. Michael’s until I married.

        The address was 1644 Wabansia Ave., Chicago, IL

        I truly miss this Lithuanian parish that was so much of my life.

    • Saulius,

      Thank you for the Draugas update. Would love to talk to you. It has been a long time.

      Thank you,
      Jerry

      • Jerry you can contact me at my law office at 150 S. Wacker Dr. Suite 1025
        Chicago IL 60606 312 346 5275; cell 708 997 1861. e-mail svkuprys@gmail.com.

        Look forward to hearing from you and recall the days at St. Anthony

        best regards

        Saulius

  5. Sveiki, norėjau paklausti ar šiuos tekstus ir nuotraukas galima būtų panaudoti svetainėje, skirtoje Čikagos lietuvių katalikų sielovadai ir paveldui aprašyti? Svetainė dar tik ruošiama: http://cikagoskatalikai.org

    Ačiū!

    • Laba diena,

      Informaciją, esančiame šiame straipsnyje, ar pavienes nuotraukas galite naudoti, paminėję šaltinį.

      Tačiau pageidautume, kad nenukopijuotumėte tiesiog viso ar žymios dalies teksto/nuotraukų – tokiu atveju geriausiai tiesiog dėkite nuorodą į šį puslapį (savo ruožtu, kai jūsų puslapyje bus daugiau unikalios informacijos, galėsime į jį įdėti nuorodą iš šio straipsnio).

      Be kita ko, šis tekstas ateityje dar bus atnaujinamas: pridedamos likusių bažnyčių, dar kelių lietuviškų vietų nuotraukos, papildoma informacija. Nukopijavus viską į kitą vietą internete ilgainiui atsirastų dvi skirtingos teksto versijos.

      Jeigu jūs turite papildomos informacijos šia tema ar matote tekste klaidų, taip pat galite paminėti ir tekstas bus pakoreguotas (pavyzdžiui, diskusijoje po šiuo straipsniu iškeltas klausimas, ar buv. Aušros vartų / Our Lady of Vilna bažnyčia yra nugriauta, o jeigu nėra nugriauta, tai kur tiksliai ji realiai stovi?).

    • Dėkui, informacijos keista, bet labai nedaug, matomai dauguma jos yra spaudos archyve. Geriausias šaltinis kokį radau yra:

      Amerikos lietuvių katalikų metraštis 1916 m.

      • Dėkui už įdomią nuorodą. Apie Čikagos Aušros Vartų bažnyčią ten neradau informacijos (tik apie Niujorko to paties pavadinimo bažnyčią), bet yra kitų įdomių senų nuotraukų ir informacijos.

  6. Gerbemieji

    Ar kas renka žinias apie lietuvius Venezueloj ir Colombijoj?

    Po II Pasulinio Karo, nuo 1947 daug lietuvių emigravo į tuos kraštus.

    Aš ten užaugau, 16 metų gyvenau. Dabar USA.

    Dėkui už jūsų dėmėsi.

    Peter (Rimantas) Ramanauskas

    • Sveiki, išties visos žinios apie lietuvišką paveldą užsienyje domina ir skelbiamos šioje svetainėje. Kol kas Kolumbijos ir Venesuelos bendruomenės paminėtos bendrame straipsnyje apie Lotynų Ameriką, o turint daugiau informacijos planuoju parašyti ir atskirus straipsnius.

      Tiesa, šitas tinklapis skirtas ne pačioms bendruomenėms, o lietuvių paveldui (bažnyčioms, kapinėms, atminimo lentoms, muziejams, paminklams, žymių žmonių gyvenamosioms vietoms, Lietuvos ar lietuvių garbei pavadintoms vietoms ir t.t.). Taigi, jei tokių “lietuviškų” vietų Venesueloje ar Kolumbijoje žinote – pasidalinkite informacija, ji bus patalpinta šioje svetainėje.

  7. Grazus ir geras darbas.
    Butu gerai si website isplesti kaip istorini dokumenta visos Lietuviu Amarikoje plotme.
    Nepastebejau aprasymo Lituanistikos studiju ir tyrimo centro.
    Sekmes
    SB

    • Dėkui už pastebėtą trūkumą, dabar informaciją apie Lituanistikos studijų ir tyrimų centrą parašiau į straipsnį po Jėzuitų jaunimo centru.

      Informacija apie daugumos kitų JAV valstijų, o taip pat Ontarijo, Argentinos, Brazilijos, Urugvajaus lietuvių paveldą jau yra svetainėje. Šalių sąrašas yra juostoje virš straipsnio, arba dešinėje nuo straipsnio – paspaudus ant šalies ar valstijos pavadinimo pasirodo straipsnis apie tos šalies ar valstijos lietuvišką paveldą.

  8. Gerbiamas p. Žemaiti,
    Bravo už detališką aprašymą apie lietuvių istorinius centrus Čikagoje.
    Noriu patikslinti keletą terminų: St. Casimir “nunnery” – turėtų būt pavadinta St. Casimir Convent. (nunnery yra labai senoviskas žodis ir daugiau nebevartojamas įvardinti vienuolyną. Moteriškas vienuolynas vadinasi Convent o vyriškas vienuolynas vadinasi Monastery.)

    Brighton Park – bažnyčia agliškai vadinasi – Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    Marquette Park -bažnyčia agliškai vadinasi – Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (B.V.M.) – ne “Church of the Virgin Mary birth”

    Lemont – Blessed Jurgis Matulaitis Mission (Palaiminto Jurgio Matulaičio misija), established in 1990 – nevadinamas “chapel” bet yra misija.

    Tuo pačiu – angliškai šv, Mišios visada rašoma su didžjiają raide “Mass”.

  9. Puikus darbas, aciu. Tiesa, yra klaideliu, kai kurios jau pataisytos. Noreciau, kad pataisytume amerikiecio aki reziancia, daznai pasikartojancia, raidziavimo klaida “cemetary” istaisytumete i “cemetery”. Sekmes Jusu tolimesniame darbe.

  10. Hi,
    Your site is very informative but as a lifelong American-Lithuanian resident of Bridgeport, still live on Lituanica Avenue. I did notice a few items that may be incorrect concerning the neighborhood. First, there is no cross on the grounds where St. George once stood. The cross from the front of the church as well as the madonna from the bell tower were relocated to the grounds of All Saints-St. Anthony Church on 28th and South Wallace by the parish’s last pastor, Rev. Richard Dodaro when he was transfered there at our closing in 1990. Second, I don’t know if S. Darius and S. Girėnas were actually residents of Bridgeport. My understanding is that South Auburn Avenue was changed to South Lituanica Avenue in their memory and honor as they left from St. George’s Church after Mass for Midway Airport to begin their journey. Lastly, St. George Church was established in 1892 accross the street from where the final building stood. It was the first and oldest church established by Lithuanians west of the Appalachian Mountains. The Gothic building to my understanding was completed in 1902 not 1909. Again, not trying to underscore your work, you’ve done a wonderful job, but as a resident of Bridgeport I’m a little protective of its history and that it is recorded as correctly as possible.

    In regards to Providence of God it is important to note that it was built by the some of the parishioners of St. George as the Lithuanian community grew in the area and branched out to its Pilsen neighbor. Establishment of the church there made Mass more accessible for the area’s Lithuanian residents.

    • Thank you for your comment. I have now edited the article.

      To clarify:
      By “Only a cross left on the Open Street Map” I meant the Open Street Map program (one of the more popular online map systems) rather than on-location. As this may have been confused I removed it.

      I ahve edited the Bridheport info accrodingly, moreover added info on former St. George school. Asfor Darius and Girėnas, do you now where they have lived, or perhaps some other famous Lithuanians? As it may be impossible to put on memorial plaques on-location, Global True Lithuania may serve as a kind of “virtual memorial plaque” whereby I could write former addresses of now-deceased famous Lithuanians to this article and articles on other locations.

    • Was there a Lithuanian cultural center on Archer Avenue at Ashland Avenue ?

  11. Steponas (Stephen) Darius is listed in the 1920 census at 749 W 33rd Street, which was the Bridgeport neighborhood. His surname was actually Darašius but he changed it after WWI.
    Stasys Girenas (Girskis) — I’m still looking for.

    • Thank you. By googling the address you gave me I also now found this “Draugas” article which gives some further information on the pilots’ lifes in America. There are only images of Darius’s relatives homes however. I have tried to look for the Darius’s home on Google Street View, however it does not have that particular address. I wonder if that building still stands?

  12. You are mistaken in identfying All Saints church in Roseland as the work of architect Mulokas. All Saints church was designed by Stasys Kudokas. You do not mention a Lithuanian church in East St. Louis, Il – Immaculate Conception, built in 1956, which was designed by Jonas Mulokas.

  13. Hi, I am anticipating visiting Lithuania this summer. Can anyone point me to a local-to-Chicago Lithuanian language school for adults? Thanks! Phil Vitkus

  14. Atleiskite, gal ne čia kreipiuosi. Tačiau norėčiau paprašyti pagelbos surasti ka nors iš Praninsku šeimos gyvenusiu Lietuvoje Bučiunu kaime ir išvykusiu karo metais į USA Mano močiutė tiesiog norėjo žinoti ar Kas nors yra iš jos brolio šeimos Chicagoje, nes visi ryšiai buvo nutruke po karo.. Močiutės vardas Aleksandra ir ji buvo ištekėjusi už Bagdanskio Prano. Šiuo metu Mano močiutė mirus, tačiau būtu malonu žinoti ko ji taip ilgai laukė.

    Dėkingas už betkokia pagalba.

  15. I am of Lithuanian descent because my mother was Nellie Zoper whose family lived in Cicero in the 1940s. I was given up for adoption in Laredo, Texas in 1943 and have no information about that side of my family. I had searched online and looked at some Lithuanian books but could not find any reference to that surname. ‘
    I just found a reference to Anna Kulp nee Zoper who died in 2006. She was Nellie’s sister and my aunt.
    Where could I get some help to find out more information about the Zoper family?

    Thanks

  16. The info I found:
    Anna Kulp, nee Zoper, age 98, resident of Westmont for over 31 years, beloved wife of the late Walter A. Kulp; loving mother of Jim (Mary) Kulp and Pat (late Nick) Andrewnovitz; devoted sister of Frances (late Sidney) Goodwin, the late Angie (late John) Andrulis, Della Marcinkus, Mary (late Frank) Sidlauskas and Nellie Zoper; fond grandmother of James and Mark Kulp; aunt of six nieces and nephews. Funeral Monday 9 a.m. from Toon Funeral Home, 4920 Main St., Downers Grove, IL 60515, going to Holy Trinity Catholic Church for Mass of the Resurrection 9:30 a.m. Interment St. Casimir Catholic Cemetery. Visitation Sunday 3 to 9 p.m. For info, http://www.toonfuneralhome.com or 630-968-0408.
    1908 – 2006

    • Maybe some Chicago Lithuanians will answer here.

      However, you may also try writing directly to the Chicago Lithuanian institutions such as Balzekas museum (and others specified in this website) or the Cicero St. Anthony parish as maybe the workers there will know this family.

  17. Labai įdomi info, ačiū autoriui, tik kodėl nėra nieko apie Floridos lietuvių paveldą ? Juk ten gan nemažai yra, ypač St. Pete.

    • Dėkui. Informacija apie Floridos paveldą bus įdėta (straipsnis jau iš dalies parašytas). Nesant galimybės viską parašyti / sudėti iš karto svetainė plečiama po truputį, maždaug kas porą savaičių – mėnesį įdedama po straipsnį (apie tai pranešama Facebook paskyroje). Tarp numatomų ateityje straipsnių, be Floridos – Viskonsinas, Pensilvanijos šiaurinis anglies regionas, LDK pilys Ukrainoje, išsamesnė informacija apie Australiją, Karaliaučiaus sritis ir kt.

  18. Labai išsamus ir įdomus straipsnis. Perskaičiau atydžiai Čikagos skyrių ir peržvelgiau kitas dalis. Mano tėvelis (dailininkas Juozas Pautienius) lankydvo rytiną pakrašty (circa 1956-1965) su savo dailes parodom, tai daugel parapiją vardus prisimenu iš jo laiškų. Nepaprastai įdomu buvo pamatyt tas parapijas, nes jo parodos vykdavo parapijų salėse. Buvo labai liūdna išgirsti kai atėjo žinia apie Šenedoriaus Šv. Jurgio parapijos uždarymą ir nugriovimą. Mes su vyru ten lankėmės 1974 metuose ir padaryme ilgus interview ant video su Prel. Karalium ir klebonu Kun Neverausku, taipogi su Frackvillej gyvenančiu mano giminaičiiu jau tada senuku Kun. Čėsna. Daug istorinės medžiagos yra surinkta. Maža dalis yra patalpinta ant youtube. Galima rasti ant vyro John Boguta youtube svetaines – ziur. Hadroid. Įdomu kas privedė jus prie šio svarbais ir vertingo darbo – dokumentacija Lietuviškų parapijų ir vietovių Amerikoje? su geraiusias linkėjimais -Teresė Pautieniūte Bogutienė.

    • Dėkui, džiugu, kad jums įdomu. Imtis darbo paskatino informacijos apie lietuviškas vietas užsienyje trūkumas, palyginus su, tarkime, žydišku, lenkišku, ar kitų tautų paveldu užsienyje.

  19. I have to disagree with you strongly in the fact that the Lithuanians in Chicago are on the decline. The lithuanian world center in lemont is huge and hosts a lithuanian church, basketball league, lithuanian school with 600 students and even an offshoot of the delicious lithuanian restaurant kunigaiksciai in summit. Go to the lithuanian world center and tell me that Lithuanians are on the decline in Chicago.

    • You are correct. However, I have not claimed that there is no more Lituanity in Chicago area. What I meant was rather that it has declined from its peak when there were ~14 Lithuanian churches, most of them with schools and other institutions, also surrouding districts had many other Lithuanian-owned businesses and some districts were actually predominantly Lithuanian (Lithuanian Plaza area at east Marquette Park).

  20. Mr. Zemaitis.

    Thank You for all of your terrific work on this article. I grew up in and immediately west of Marquette Park all of my life, now residing in Northbrook and in the backyard of Chicago Executive Airport (formerly Pal-Waukee Airport) where Darius and Girenas bought their beloved Lituanica. They moved the airplane to the Clearing industrial district adjacent to Midway Airport where they retrofitted the aircraft with extended wings and fuel tanks. Darius gave flying lessons and reportedly flew air mail as far as Mackinac Island from Pal-Waukee and they were also the first to carry air mail transatlantically on their Lituanica. My father, Vyto Uznys and I were/are both private pilots and both flew out of Midway for a time and know a bit about this history. This past April/May I visited Lithuania for the first time and made a point of visiting the Military Museum in Kaunas where the Lituanica wreckage and flight artifacts are on display. The Lituanica Aircraft License lists 3239 South Halstead as its registered address (I have a number of pictures of this display if you are interested). Darius wore his Pal-Waukee cap (on display) on their ill fated journey as well. Also Girenas also went by the name “Girch” or “Gerch”. As an anecdotal fact, I recall as a small child, standing in front of the DG monument in Marquette Park and having Senator Charles Percy shake my little hand as my father flew his plane over the monument and dropped roses out his airplane window during one of their annual memorial programs. To enhance your article, you should mention the Darius Girenas American Legion Post 271 that was located in Brighton Park at 44th and Western. Reportedly this post was once the largest in the state of Illinois, composed almost completely of patriotic Lithuanian Americans from Chicago. The building was very large and hosted scores of Lithuanian programs, banquets and dinner dances. My parents celebrated many New Years Eve’s there with their friends. The post has now been sold to a hispanic group as so many of the supportive old timers are now gone. The post is now just a fledgling group meeting at other host post locations on the southwest side but still supportive of veterans causes and I’m still a member of the post.

    Additionally, there was another Lithuanian newspaper published out of Bridgeport called “Sandara”. I was a child and recall my parents receiving the paper by mail at least a couple times per week. I also recall watching the typesetter at work in the Bridgeport office on visits there with my father who was a friend of the editor, Mykolas Vaidyla who is also buried in the Lithuanian National Cemetery.

    Finally, I am trying to research my grandparents roots a bit further in Bridgport. They had my Mom in 1928 and baptized her in St. George’s church just down the street from where they lived and also nearby where the Sandara newspaper office was based. My grandparents shortly thereafter moved back to Lithuania and the plot thickens after that, however I’m interested to learn more about the sentiments of the Bridgeport Lithuanians around the time of 1928 and 1929. I know it was during prohibition, boot legging, Al Capone, Wall Street/pre-Depression and economic collapse times. It seems my grandparents traded all of this for German/Russian occupation in Lithuania just 15 years later. Any help or advice you may offer would be appreciated. I want to write a book about my grandparents (and Mom’s) life that I think would also be movie-worthy but also want to get my facts straight. I have been referred to the Balzekas museum but am also told that involvement with them could be a costly affair. Please advice your thoughts . . . your work above has provided a few more pieces ro my puzzle but I have many, many more left to discover.

    Best and Aciu!
    Linda Uznys

    • Thank you for the addition. I have added the American legion post to the Chicago article now.

      As for the research, it depends on what you are searching for. If you search for particular details of your grandparents (and possibly their parents, circumstances of their death, etc.), you may also use the archives in Republic of Lithuania. Knowing names and more detauils, additional details could be found there. We generally provide a service of contacting archives, if needed.

    • Look into Lithuanian Geneological Society on Facebook

  21. Very interesting and informative article.

    The one picture, though, that you displayed and said that it was the home of the Darius-Girenas American Legion Post is in error.

    I am a 40 year member of the post, and presently the post Commander.

    Our first home was at 4416-18 S. Western Ave, in Chicago.

    We sold the building around 10 years ago.

    We then met at the William McKinley post at 35th & Damen for a few years.

    Past post commander Al Bartkus had a tavern at 69th & Maplewood in Marquette Park. He offered his place of business for us to use for our meeting night. We accepted his offer and moved there. Al Bartkus died in an automobile accident this past November and his son sold the building.

    We now meet at a tavern/grove near the Lithuanian National Cemetery, in Justice.

    Just for the record and to get to the point, the building in the picture is not, and never was a Darius-Girenas American Legion post.

    Again, great web site, and I’m not complaining about anything, but I just wanted to set the record straight.

    I have no idea of where this featured building is.

  22. Regarding the questions about Our Lady of Vilna school:

    I attended Our Lady of Vilna school through 2nd grade.

    We moved to the Midway Airport area in the summer of 1953.

    I lived a 1/2 block away at the time and my grandparents owned a 2 flat across the street from the school. They also owned the largest tavern in the neighborhood just east of Oakley Ave, on 23rd place.

    Our Lady of Vilna school closed in 1988 and merged with Saint Paul school at 2127 W. 22nd Place. That school then became known as Our Lady of Vilna-Saint Paul Grammar School. This school recently closed it doors for good. They were down to just 98 students and faced crushing debt.

    The old Our Lady of Vilna school was bought by the Chicago Board of Education and made into a feeder school.

    I couldn’t find the exact address of the original Our Lady of Vilna school, but they have a nun’s home still on the property, and that address is 2337 W. 23rd Place.

    Directly east of the nun’s home is a parking lot. Directly east of the parking lot is the old parsonage. The priest’s home. And finally directly east of that building is the building that was once Our Lady of Vilna. That’s the best I can do for now.

  23. Again, just for the record, the Draugus printing plant and main offices were directly east of Our Lady of Vilna school (across the alley), on the Southwest corner of 23rd Place and Oakley at one time. My fondest memory of those days was when a truck would come by once a week and drop off giant rolls of paper for the presses right on the sidewalk, in front of the Draugus plant. They were piled high and after school we would climb them until somebody came out of the office and shooed us off.

    Ah, the good old days.

  24. Once again, for the record, and my memory is a bit fuzzy on this, but maybe not, the Darius-Girenas American Legion Post 271 was formed in 1932 as the Major William J. Harris American Legion Post 271. Darius and Girenas were post members in that, then at the time, primarily Lithuanian-American post. Upon the deaths of Darius and Girenas, the post members immediately changed the name of the post to the Darius-Girenas American Legion Post 271. This change came about in 1933. There is sometimes confusion when we celebrate an important post anniversary because post 271 in actuality was founded in 1932, but became the Darius-Girenas post in 1933. Our post celebrates the 1933 date.

    • Thank you for your extensive comments. The information about American Legion building ha snow been corrected and the previous image removed.

  25. Thank you for compiling so much information in one location. The name of the Catholic church in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago is PROVIDENCE OF GOD, not Divine Providence, although the meaning is the same! The name is easily verified online on the roster of Catholic parishes in Chicago. I was a 1965 graduate of Providence of God School. I remember that the Lithuanian language was taught in my early grade classrooms, but was no longer taught when the demographic change came in the middle to late 1950s.

  26. Great Article. Thanks for the info. Does anyone know where I can find a blank Illinois 45 form to fill out?

  27. As an American born Lithuanian from Bridgeport, your article brings back many memories for me. Thanks for utilizing my pictures of St. George Parish. The rectory pictured is the first rectory built and was later replaced with a modern building, which was torn down at the same time the church was demolished. I used to work in the rectory on weekends or whenever they needed assistance. It would be great if more Bridgeporters could collaborate and add more articles and insights to the St. George portion of this article. Would anyone happen to know what happened to the church main altar? It was rumored that the altar and stations of the cross were shipped to Lithuania. Please let me know if you know anything about the whereabouts of the altar. In the meantime, keep up the great work!

    • I also grew up 2 blocks away from St Georges church in the 1940-1950 era.
      I read on the net that the alter,organ,windows and some other parts of the church were sent back to Lithuania where they were made.
      I’m making a scrap book on my younger days in bridgeport. I’m looking for photo’s of St George church and school where I attended during the 1950’s and Ramova show,as well as milda.If possible the old Saina kosher building where my mom bought lunch meat. Lerners , a&p, and the bakery east on Halsted around 32 or 33 rd street. Armour school is also one where I went during my early years and a photo would be appreciated.
      Since I’m going to another country and a trip to the old neighborhood would not be easy i want to be able to see my past.
      Another thing I’m looking for is a pic of the old WLS radio transmitter tower in Tinley Park.When I drove past the location some 20 or 30 years ago I was surprised to see the tower gone and replaced with a skinny tower.
      I lived in Tinley before moving to Texas and would pass the old tower all the time

  28. Thank you for the brilliant article and history lesson. I would never have known if you had not put all this on paper.

  29. Excellent article and comments! Any information on St. Michael located at 1644 W. Wabansia avenue? Perhaps a picture? The parish was started in 1904 and the building razed in 1970. There are residential buildings there now.

  30. Does anyone know the name of the church in Lithuania that received the altars and furnishings from St. George Church in Bridgeport? Having found in recent years my lost Pupininkas (Papnick) relatives in Lithuania, now found after almost 100 years, a visit with them would be far more meaningful if I could show them the altar from St. George Church where I worshiped in my youth. Please email me: ericjames@ericjames.org

    • I don’t know exactly. Perhaps you should contact the archbishopric or former priests of the parish (if there are any left) who may have such information?

    • Try contacting the sisters of st Casimir now located in lemony with the sisters of st francis

    • Hello, Eric, I have been trying to find out the same information, for pretty much the same reason (a visit to these relics of the old church on a potential visit to Lithuania). Did you ever get an answer to your question, here or elsewhere?

  31. Hi, Thank you for the article. I went to St. George from 1965-1973. I will look and see if I have any pictures. –Rasa

  32. CDL DRIVERS NEEDED 48C/ — 50C/ MIL CONTACT flextransinc@gmail.com

  33. ČIKAGOS ŠIAURĖJE buvo dar viena lietuvių parapija ir jos paveldas tesiasi.
    Šv Baltramiejaus parapija buvo įkurta 1896 metais Waukegan Illinois.
    Jos parapijiečių palikuonys, antra ir trečiabangiai dabar meldžiasi
    išnomuotose patalpose, švenčia nepriklausomybę ir vaikus moko lietuvių kalbos.

  34. Atsitiktinai atsidariau si portaliuka. Ir…apgailestauju, kad tenka priminti visiems: Bostono lietuviu sv.Petro baznycios a.a.kunigas William Wolkovich-Valkavicius savo atostogu laiku ir savo pinigais apkeliavo visas lietuviskas parapijas JAV, surinko medziaga ir isspausdino trijuose tomuose ,,Lithuanian Religious Life in America”. Viskas , chronologine tvarka tik su ne itin meniskomis nuotraukomis, aprasyta sioje knygoje- parapiju, baznyciu, bendruomeniu istorija. Visi, kurie savaip aprasineja lietuviu baznyciu ar parapiju istorijas , be jokios abejones, pasinaudoja minetomis knygomis. Tik kunigas pats apkeliavo, o kiti- pasinaudojo, issiverte ir t.t. Tokia A.V. Skiudaites nuplagijuoja (90 proc.) knyga yra ,,Lietuviu pedsakai Amerikoje”. Beje, ji nuplagijavo ir J.Buteno/A.Kezio ,,Pensilvanijos angliakasiu Lietuva”, sukeitusi A su B. Taip del nesaziningu zmoniu, atsiranda nauji vardai, paminant, pamirstant tuos, kurie patys isvaiksciojo, tyre, aprase, isspausdinimui paaukojo didele dali savo lesu. Kadangi kunigas gyveno Rytineje pakranteje, isspausdinta Massachusetts valstijoje, o Lietuviu fondas paaukojo tik $500, tai labai paprasta ,,uzmirsti”, nes tik 1000 kopiju isspausdinta. Nutyleti, vadinasi pritarti klastotojams, plagijatoriams.

    • Dėkui už informaciją. Šiame tinklapyje surinkta informacija iš įvairių šaltinių, jų tarpe mano paties pokalbių su įvairių miestų lietuviais, interneto (tiek užsienio lietuvių, tiek ir ne lietuvių svetainių). Nė vienos įvardytų knygų nesu matęs ir skaitęs. Maži tiražai yra problema, tačiau net ir esant dideliam tiražui knygos ilgainiui tampa sunkiai prieinamomis, nes juk jų egzemplioriai guli konkrečiose vietose, tuo tarpu lietuviai pasklidę po visą pasaulį ir nebūtinai bus galimybė tą knygą paskaityti; kitais kartais net sužinoti, kad tam tikra tema yra parašyta knyga, tampa sudėtinga. Tuo tarpu kas parašyta internete, yra prieinama iš visur ir bet kada, todėl savo tyrinėjimus stengiuosi publikuoti būtent internete.

      Kadangi minėtų knygų nesu skaitęs, negaliu pakomentuoti, ar/kas įvardytose A. V. Skiudaitės knygose yra nuplagijuota iš knygos “Lithuanian Religious Life in America”. Jeigu be autoriaus Valkavičiaus leidimo sutampa ar beveik sutampa patys tekstai (tik išversti) ir/ar nuotraukos – tada tikrai nuplagijuota. Tačiau jei tiesiog skirtingi autoriai rašo ta pačia tema – tai nebūtinai; Amerikos lietuviai yra šimtatūkstantinė bendruomenė, ji ir jos paveldas tikrai verta, kad tai tyrinėtų ir apie tai rašytų daugiau nei vienas ar keli žmonės.

  35. Kun. Valkaviciaus archyvas ir minetos knygos yra persiustos i Kauna, Iseivijos instituta prie VDU, direktorius prof. Aleksandravicius. Teigdama , kad knyga yra nuplagijuota, turiu tam pagrindo, nes turiu tas knygas, be to tuo laikotarpiu, kai buvo kurpiama ,,Lietuviu pedsakai Amerikoje” priklausiau JAV LB kulturos tarybai. Buvo renkami pinigai knygos isleidimui. Tik po kiek laiko, kai pradejau tyrineti kas kur ir kaip, supratau kur suo pakastas. Na ir Jus, imates tyrineti JAV lietuviu istorija juk ne is galvos traukiate tas zinias, o is kitu autoriu surinktos medziagos. Daugeli dalyku galima atpazinti pagal zinomus tekstus. Todel is pagarbos autoriams reiketu nurodyti bent jau saltini. Beje kun. W.Valkaviciaus knyga netrukus turetu patekti i interneta per enciklopedini portala http://www.lietuvai.lt
    Be abejo, skelbti internete verta – juk naujausiu technologiju deka atsiveria placiai daugelis istoriju ir t.t. Tik, lieku savos nuomones – gerbkime kitu autoriu atliktus darbus ir minekime juos, kaip savo tyrinejimu pagrindus. Linkiu sekmes.

  36. My grandfather Felix Siratovich was one of the many butchers mentioned in this article and lived in Marquette Park area. They also attended the Villas Church until they passed away. I have never lived in Chicago, but once attended a Lithuanian festival there. Other than my grandmother’s cooking, it was the first time I had ever seen Lithuanian food. I don’t know much, but I have a FANTASTIC recipe for Lithuanian dumplings, my favorite food ever!!!!

  37. Thanks for sharing this information, I will also share it with friends. My East Central Illinois community of Westvile has a rich Lithuanian history.

  38. Drove my dad to the Lithuanian Alliance of America meetings and visiting with editor Michael Vaidyla (?) of the Sandra newspaper, sharing a few shots of whiskey in the printing plant.

    • Mr. Kapocius,

      I have been trying to find out where the Sandara newspaper office was located. As a child, my father took me there and was a friend of Mr. Vaidyla but I don’t remember where the newspaper office was located. Do you recall. I remember watching the typesetter at work and the creaky wooden floors there. I wondered how those old wooden floors supported all the heavy duty printing machinery! My father, Vyto Uznys was also a member of the Lithuanian Alliance of America. Would you by chance be related to Jane Kapocius-Kuzas? Please advise what you may know about the location of the Sandara business office in Brideport . . . I’m told that my mother was born in a building directly across the street from there. Thanks in advance for your help!

  39. My mother and her sister made their communion at Providence of God in 1914 or 15.

  40. Puikus puslapis! Pats domiuosi Amerikos lietuvių bažnyčiomis, tai smagu pamatyti daug susistemintos medžiagos.
    Tiesa, niekur nerandu daugiau informacijos apie Visų Šventųjų bažnyčia Roselande, Galbūt esate išsaugojęs šios bažnyčios adresą, kad būtų įmanoma bent per google’ą pažiūrėti?

  41. Thank you for the wonderful history lesson. I attended Saint George from 1957 to 1966 and was shocked when I came back to Chicago for a visit to find the Church, Convent and Monastery gone. It broke my heart. I was shocked that they took down the Cross and the Grotto too. I have many happy memories of a wonderful childhood spent at Saint George and this site helps to keep them alive.
    God bless,
    Mike

    • Hi mike I lived at 827 west 33 rd pl and was in tears when I saw the church, school and all signs of it gone.I left St George school as you were stating there. I remember the coral grotto also. From my apt porch the clocks on the steeple were in my face as I left for school.I also attended Armour school before attending St George, what a difference. I ran into several people years later. Alex Belski, Kathy setter and her brothers,( DENNIS,TOBY) in tinley park. did you know them?

  42. Does anyone know the address of the old Sandara Lithuanian newspaper office in Bridgeport? It was down the street from the old St. George church but that is all I recall. Thanks in advance for any responses!

  43. It was my understanding that the 3-story hand-carved wooden altar, the church organ, and many of the magnificent stained-glass windows from St. George’s Church in the Bridgeport neighborhood in Chicago were to have been shipped back to Lithuania after the church was demolished. Does anyone know if this actually happened, and if so, if they have been preserved in any manner there?

  44. Within the past few years, the Lutheran Lithuanian Church opened on Wolf Road in the affluent suburb of Western Springs. It shares the small building with a non Lithuanian Lutheran parish, but the Lithuanian flag and notice of Lithuanian services are visible on the sign on Wolf Road. I understand it was the same group originally in Marquette Park in the city, but hadn’t lived in the city for years and didn’t feel safe at their old building. There are many people with Lithuanian heritage in the Western Springs, Hinsdale, Burr Ridge, La Grange areas….

  45. Aciu. Siandien as suzinojau daug naujienu apie CIKAGA, LABAI IDOMU.

  46. Wow..great article and pics. But you didnt include anyrhing about the Sisters of St. Casimir, a religious order that was was founded by a Lith woman, Maria Kaupas. A lot of the early nuns were Lith gals. Pictures of the Motherhouse, inside and out would be great, esp the chapel.
    That building was also the high school they started, St. Casimir Academy. Again, try and get pics of the old classrooms and library, and the grounds they sjared with the postulants and novices. That is one old building.
    Student population grew so they built Maria H.S..
    The nuns also taught school at the parishes you mentioned here in Chicago. I was a third generation student of theirs…”you cant scare me..I was taught by nuns!”

    • Thank you. We do include the interior images of locations we are able to visit. However, as the website is not funded by any authority, our ability to do that is limited. Therefore, often we rely on the free images available on Google Street View. However, those are just exterior images.

  47. Augustinas,
    I have had a real problem TRYING to get a photo of a bronze plaque on the main altar of Providence of God Church at 18th & Union. About every other year ( I no longer live in Illinois – retired now ) I have contacted the rectory for some 8 years about being able to enter the church so I can TAKE this picture of the plaque. The altar was paid for by the Lapinskas family in the parishes humble beginnings in the 20’s !!
    I received a response, some 6 years ago, from a woman who ID’d herself as the receptionist. I asked if SHE could take a photo of the plaque. Her response was that the plaque was “rubbed smooth” !!! ‘I’ find this hard to believe on one hand and on the other, when I get to town the church is LOCKED up and no one answers the rectory door !!

    Now I ‘hear’ that the church is “out of business.” Do you know someone who could, gain access to this FORTRESS and, take a digital of the plaque and email it to me ?? My Grandmother told me many years ago that she paid in full for this altar in the sum of $2300 !! It would be ‘nice’ if the church could help / co-operate with a brethren of the church. It makes me mad just to think about this run around I’ve been handed.

    • I wasn’t at this church. However, having visited some 80 Lithuanian-American churches, both current and former, I can say that the possibility to visit them often depends on the goodwill of the people there, such as priests. In some cases, we were able to quickly visit churches and even get tours on them even by non-Lithuanian priests (e.g. there is a Vietnamese parish in one of the ex-Lithuanian churches at Worcester, MA, yet the Vietnamese priest was happy to let us in and talk about it, even without any pre-arrangement). In some other cases, however, we were ignored despite many attempts to get inside, as, apparently, happened to you as well.

      When the churches are open, it is usually possible to get inside without any arrangements before or immediately after the mass. When they are closed, however, this becomes much harder. Providence of God, as I understand, still is a church albeit has no mass, so it may still have baptisms, weddings and such, though it could be hard to learn of their times in advance, but entering then would be the best bet.

      If successful in getting funding, we plan to do expedition “Destination – America 2018” to the Midwest in mid-2018, we would attempt to enter the Providence of God then as well, although we cannot guarantee more success in that than you had.

      To me it seems that some of the American churches work as churches should, that is, happy in the interest expressed in them and wishing to let the world know more about them, have a connection to them. However, some other churches, even if also Catholic, operate more like government institutions, wishing to get as little work as possible beyond what is a must (i.e. a once-weekly Holy Mass).

  48. If you do make it to the midwest for a trip you might want to check out St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Gary IN, my Great Grandparents and the community, mostly Lithuanian’s that came to US in the early 1900’s worshiped and married here. they also had a school that closed in the late 50’s early 60’s i think. my uncle (who is now 77 went there from 1946-1954. The church is still open but has very limited hours.

    • Thank you for the information. However, was it ever a Lithuanian church? In general, nearly every location of the USA had Lithuanians as patrons, members, etc., so, to keep our project manageable, w document only the sites that have a closer relation to Lithuania (e.g. ever had the majority of parishioners Lithuanian, Lithuanian language regularly used for the holy mass (even if it is no longer used now), Lithuanian signs still available in the decor of the church, memorials for Lithuanians built in the churchyard, or something else similar to that). Would the Gary Lutheran church qualify?

      We have information on the Gary Lithuanian Catholic church by the way in the Indiana article: http://global.truelithuania.com/indiana-746/

  49. Hello, Thank you for this wonderful informative sight. I am a second generation Lithuanian trying to research my family history, and this is very helpful. I would like however to suggest an edit perhaps, the sentence:
    “After Marquette Park was overtaken by Blacks there is no longer a Lithuanian district in Chicago, but a community center exists in the Lemont suburb.”
    This is quite off putting, I am not sure what you mean by “overtaken” but it sounds aggressive and i’m not sure that is what you are meaning to say?

    thank you for your time and consideration!

    • From what I read (those who lived in Marquette park at the time may explain more or correct me, perhaps) the situation was something like that:

      *Before the civil rights movement, Chicago had its “racial border” running somewhere south of Marquette Park, with Marquette Park being white (or, more correctly, Lithuanian) district, whereas most districts further south being black.
      *During the civil rights movement, blacks attempted to desegregate Chicago by unilaterally moving north and, being unable to actually buy much property in white parts of Chicago, they, for example, established camps in Marquette Park where they lived in the park itself.
      *A significant proportion of the new “unilateral inhabitants” were criminals or radicals. There were some direct clashes between the newly arrived blacks and Marquette Park locals as well, as the locals saw the new arrivals to be decreasing their quality of life and property values (due to large numbers of street people in what was a nice park, increased crime rates, etc.), as well, perhaps more importantly, as eroding the Lithuanian majority in what was the only significant area in the free non-communist world where such a majority existed (and thus the Lithuanian culture could have been perpetuated). Blacks, on the other hand, saw the locals of Marquette Park as a hindrance to desegregation or perhaps even opposing them due to racism; they generally did not try to see a difference between the recently-immigrated Lithuanians and the English-speaking “Old white” majority of the USA from which the bulk of their civil-rights-era “enemies” came.
      *Eventually, more and more Lithuanians began to leave the district, and the blacks bought/rented their homes as, given the new district’s reputation, few others wanted to live there (except some staunch Lithuanians who were too attached to the district and its symbolic meaning to leave, although, as Lithuanian restaurants and other institutions in Marquette Park closed down, more and more of them left also, as the district became not really Lithuanian anyhow; others died, while their kids moved out). Many homes remained abandoned.
      *As a result, the black civil-rights-era goal to desegregate Chicago failed: instead, the racial white-black border simply moved northwards, and Marquette Park, as well some other areas where Lithuanians once settled, became nearly all-black instead of being nearly all-white. The areas further north remained nearly all-non-black, however.
      *Lithuanians became the biggest losers in this, as they have lost their only district in what was essentially not “their struggle” as the first Lithuanians moved into the USA after the slavery was already abolished and there is no known Lithuanian who would have been a slaveowner in the USA. In fact, Lithuanian history is much more similar to that of Africans than that of English, Germans, or Italians where much of the USA’s white population originates from. Like the black nations, Lithuanians spent part of the 18th century, all the 19th century and the majority of the 20th century under the rule of foreign empires. Also, Lithuanians themselves in Lithuania lived in similar-to-slavery conditions until 1861, just 4 years before the US abolition to slavery, as most Lithuanians in Lithuania were considered to be a property of local nobles (usually Polish- or Russian- speaking nobles). In fact, that was the reason why they could not have emigrated to the USA earlier and once this “ownership” was abolished, they began to emigrate en-masse. See http://global.truelithuania.com/similarities-between-lithuanians-and-other-nations/ for similarities between Lithuanians and African-Americans.

      English is not my native language, however, given the circumstances, perhaps the word “overtaken” is ok to use, as it was part of the planned action during the civil rights movement that also included clashes?

      • Where did you get the above information?

        the city of chicago had a system of corrupt housing discrimination- for years
        See article below:
        http://www.chicagomag.com/city-life/May-2014/The-Long-Shadow-of-Housing-Discrimination-in-Chicago/

        I believe using the word “over-taken” is very problematic in this context, as we live in a free county where everyone deserves a home and a place to belong, and I think that immigrants understand this from a personal perspective. It is inherently racist to single out any group by race, religion, or culture and say they can’t live in a certain area. Chicago has had a long standing problem with segregation and it is a complicated history, but to be “overtaken”sounds like war-fare, or a coup of a regime, not just simply people trying to find a place to call home.

        respectfully,
        Carolyn H.

      • I replied. I hope you received.

  50. I left a comment, I don’t see it here…

  51. here is a church bulletin from Williamsburg Brooklyn which back in the day had a large thriving Lithuanian community.

    http://www.nyapreiskimo.com/

  52. going through family papers, baptisms, etc, your surname was related to mine. are our two surnames among the most common Lithuanian names and do either come from any specific area in Lithuania?

    • Žemaitis is more common than Stanaitis. In the archives, I can do a search for the surnames to see if they are more associated with some areas. Typically, before 20th cnetury Lithuanians were far less mobile, so surnames were greatly associated with some areas more than others (as the owners of the surnames would not migrate, and large families meant the numbers of the people with the same surname would expand exponentially in each area where these people lived). Yet, it is often impossible to know which surnames with what areas without a search in the archive database. There are no regions in Lithuania like Scotland or Wales in Great Britain that would have different ethnic heritage and thus very different surnames.

      • thanx for getting back to me. by accident, I located a young woman named Andrea stanaitis, her maiden name.in minnesota several years ago, I found another Andrea stanaitis who lived in a Jewish area in the 20s in marjopole ( you probably know the name better than I do. I found other Stanaitis in suvalki and my maternal gp in sulaili (something)
        when I find the paper tying Zemaitis and Stanaitis together, I’ll send you a short note.

  53. For Chicago Lithuanians past and present, there are shirts for sale with more coming soon! High quality. Please check them out!
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/MidwestLiths

  54. Hi
    I totally agree with your description of Marquette park- you word is perhaps to nice.. Those of us who lived during the black invasion of our neighborhoods- Roseland-west Pullman, Brighton park on and on.. Begin robbed, homes broken into and loosing money on our homes . I and many of us are still around to remember the horror of this invasion. So i am more than fine with this word. I am thinking this young lady has never live through the great black invasion of our cities.

    • I visited Chicago in the late 70s for work related school. I never went into the city but decided to visit Marquette park . I hadn’t been in a Lithuanian neighborhood since I left Brooklyn, ny in the 40s. It was fantastic, but so then was Brooklyn back in the day. Brooklyn, today is totally changed and very nice again in most areas, especially Greenpoint and Williamsburgh. Yes, I agree with you. much of this younger generation has been brainwashed to totally disregard their own ethnicity and the struggles their forebears went through. the marches into the park were a forced incursion approved by that current political period ,resisted later on with force which was not good. it was not a normal “neighborhood in transition” change.

    • I had replied to and agreed with your comments. unfortunately I may have used some words considered “codes” and my comments were deleted.

  55. I still have more picture that I could send to you, it has been years 2014? that I sent you some of the pictures on your site. Some of the churches I was able to get into. For those I can share the pictures if you wish.

  56. here is another interesting site in Lithuania. pictures and recipes
    http://cepelinas.eu

  57. Please will you direct me to Lithuanian Alliance in Chicago? My grandfather, Casimir Boranowskas was a member, I don’t know when he joined as he emigrated to U.S. in 1908. My grandmother’s maiden name was Seraf(p)ina and she emigrated from Kaunas in 1909 approx. (while Lithuanian was still under Soviet rule), according to the ship manifest I found in Chicago. I am living in Washington, D.C. and have visited the Embassy here. Still there is so much history I don’t know. My grandparents lived in So. Chicago and my brothers and I attended the Lithuanian School, St. Joseph which is no longer part of Lithuanian community. Any information would be greatly appreciated as I am researching ancestry. I believe my grandparents were married in St. Joseph Church in So. Chicago when Fr. Victor Cernauskas was pastor and later, Fr. Peter. The story goes when St. Joseph was first built, peacocks strolled around the adjacent gardens. Thank you for your consideration and attention.


Leave a comment

No trackbacks yet.