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Our History - Celebrating 125 years

Located in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood, Our Lady of Lourdes celebrated its first mass on Oct. 8, 1892. The original church was a frame building located on the southwest corner of Ashland and Leland Avenues, featuring a bell tower and a rose window depicting the Blessed Mother.

In 1903, the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary founded a parish grade school with 340 inaugural pupils. Thousands of students received an excellent Catholic education at the school before it closed in 2004.

As the parish grew, the original church was demolished and a new one built across the street on the southeast corner. Prolific church architects Worthmann & Steinback modeled the Spanish Renaissance-style architecture to resemble a church in Valladolid, Spain, and it was dedicated on May 21, 1916.

Our Lady of Lourdes garnered international acclaim in 1929 for executing one of the great engineering feats of the early-twentieth century. When the city of Chicago decided to widen Ashland Ave., Fr. James Scanlan decided to once again move the entire church across the street.  A gang of 50 men operating steel jacks lifted the 10,000 ton building from its foundation, placing it on steel rails that acted as rollers, pulling the structure across the street with six heavy chains, 72 pulleys and two teams of horses at the rate of “a foot a minute.” The building was rotated 90 degrees to its present position and cut in two, so that a 30-foot section could be added to accommodate 300 additional parishioners.