'Round the Square – Summer 2019 View this email in your browser

A note from the Publisher... This email issue is coming a bit later than we hoped because we are short-staffed. See the Volunteer section if you would like to help. Thanks!
heading: 'Round the Square - The newsletter of Logan Square Preservation
When the Squares Ruled the Diamond

The Cubs and White Sox have a storied rivalry and legions of fans throughout the city. But early in the last century, Logan Square had its own semiprofessional team —the Logan Squares—that gave the two pro teams a run for their money. The Logan Squares

Logan Square's 'unbeatable' semi-pro team drew huge crowds by flouting the rules

    The team was the pet project of Jim “Nixey” Callahan. An accomplished utility player, Callahan had pitched and played left field for the Philadelphia Phillies, the Chicago Colts (Cubs) and the White Sox. After retiring from professional baseball in 1905 at age 31, he bought an amateur diamond in Logan Square and erected a wooden grandstand and a canvas fence to control admission.

    Located between Milwaukee, Diversey and Sawyer, the park’s home plate was located approximately where McDonald’s sits today. “You could get in three ways,” longtime resident Thomas Dale told writer John Drury in a letter from the 1950s. “Crawl under the canvas (although you risked being clobbered by irate attendants), find a ball that had been popped out of the park (you presented the ball to Sarge, an ancient guardian with a tin star that was suspiciously of Cracker Jack nature), or—most unorthodox of all—pay your way.”

In the days before radio and television, semipro and amateur baseball drew big crowds all over the city; when the Logan Squares played their first official game on April 15, 1906, more than 400 teams were already playing scheduled games throughout the city.

Callahan convinced nine other semipro teams to join the Logan Squares in forming the Chicago City League, including the Leland Giants, a Negro league team owned by Hall of Fame pitcher Andrew “Rube” Foster.  

    Callahan flouted the rules in building the Squares, however, paying players who were still under contract to professional teams to play. Ringers such as Phillies outfielder Moose McCormick, White Sox second baseman Gus Dundon and Cleveland Naps pitcher Happy Townsend joined under aliases, and the caliber of talent fast made the Logan Squares almost unbeatable—and an immediate sensation. In October 1906, in fact, crowds of more than 5,000 watched the Squares take on the White Sox and the Cubs in postseason games. The Squares handily beat both teams.

Callahan’s hiring practices soon drew the scrutiny of baseball’s National Commission, however. Calling him “The Anarchist of Baseball,” it began penalizing pros for playing with the Squares and other “outlaw” clubs in 1908. Callahan fought back with a lawsuit calling for investigation of the majors as a monopoly.

    When the White Sox’ new stadium opened in 1910, attendance at Logan Square Park fell off. The following year, Callahan buried the hatchet with Sox owner Charles Comiskey and rejoined the team as player/manager. He disbanded the Squares and tore down the fence surrounding the park. It continued to host amateur games until 1925, when it was razed to make way for—what else?— apartment buildings.  – Ian P. Murphy

In This Edition - Summer 2019
When the Squares Ruled the Diamond
Your Urban Forest – Tree Planting
The Little House of Art
Voices from the Square – Jane Heron
Grace's – the Story Behind the Sign
Windows Update (no, not that kind!)

IN LATE APRIL, we completed our work restoring the stained glass windows at the former Eleventh Church of Christ Scientist (today the Hispanic Seven Day Adventist Central Church) on Logan Blvd. Take a stroll and see for yourself! Thanks to all the donors and the Church for their support.

(click to view full size)

A big THANK YOU to incoming First Ward Alderman Daniel La Spata for coming out to our regular monthly membership meeting at the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church on May 16. There was a lively discussion and we look forward to working with him as he charts a new course for the ward.

Must-Have T-Shirts

Wear your love of Logan Square on your sleeve with these designs from People's Garment Company. Choose from eleven styles from the history of Logan Square like the Chicago Norske Klub and the Terminal Restaurant.

Visit our online store to see all of the designs and styles printed on baseball sleeve t-shirts, plain tees and sweatshirts. You will also find prints of historic images and more.
Volunteers Needed
Logan Square Preservation has the need for some volunteers for our ongoing projects.
Online – LSP is searching for a volunteer to put together the email and online version of our newsletter. We also have some upcoming special projects that could use someone comfortable with pointing and clicking on their computer.
QuickBooks – LSP is seeking a volunteer to assist in the growing volume of activity.
Events Committee – We are now organizing for the 2020 events schedule. It’s a good way to get engaged in Logan Square Preservation.
photo: Tree-lined Logan Boulevard circa 1920
Tree Planting Oct 5th

Logan Square Preservation will be planting trees along Logan Boulevard on Saturday morning October 5th. We call on each of you to support the LSP mission of preservation and beautification by reforesting the damage done by the Emerald Ash Borer. There are three ways to help:
Volunteer to Plant Trees on Saturday
There is no experience needed to participate in family-friendly tree planting on Saturday morning.

More Information and Sign-Up

Volunteer as a Water Steward
If you live between 2830 and 3000 W. Logan Boulevard you can water the newly-planted trees or allow LSP volunteers access to your spigot until the trees are established.


Spread the Word
If you are not able to participate, tell your friends and neighbors how trees enhance the well-being and beauty of our community. Share the link or email

Designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead, the boulevard system was leisurely landscaped medians with formal lines of trees. Logan Square Preservation commissioned a new Master Plan as a blueprint to restore our boulevards after time and invasive species have decimated their majestic lines.
This plan has the support of City departments of Forestry, Transportation and Planning and Development as well as Alderman Waguespak (34th). Trees and critical support are being provided by Openlands. Certified TreeKeepers will be on hand to provide expert guidance during the planting event.

Your Urban Forest

By Betsy Elsaesser, Certified Arborist IL-9079A

Logan Square trees are more than just a pretty face. Check out their great benefits and learn how to keep them healthy in an urban environment:

Trees help clean the air and save energy.

  • Trees absorb carbon dioxide, ozone and other pollutants.
  • One shade tree has the cooling effect of five room-size air conditioners.
  • Trees trap dust and soot particles in their leaves and bark.
  • Landscaping with trees reduces lawn space and the need for mowing.
  • Trees absorb groundwater and may help to reduce flooding.
Urban trees need our help to survive!
  • Water new trees every week.
  • Mulch trees with wood chips, not grass clippings.
  • Wait two or three years after planting to prune a tree.
  • Never prune oak trees in the growing season.
  • Protect tree roots from damage and compression.
  • Avoid weed whacker and mower damage to bark.
  • Do not apply broadleaf weed killers near trees.
  • Plant trees selected for the Chicago environment.
heading: The Little House of Art
by Leslie Gray
Comfort Station — an 800-square-foot Tudor-style cottage in the middle of Logan Square Park — began as just that, a comfort station. Built in 1915, it is one of the last remaining public restrooms and warmth centers built for trolley riders on the boulevards. 

A total of nine were built in 1926 and 1927. The only other that still stands is located on Austin Avenue in Columbus Park.

    Public records show that Logan Square’s iconic structure was identified as vacant by 1940. In later years, it was repurposed as a storage space for the Department of Forestry. This changed in 2004, when the Chicago Tribune reported that the Chicago Department of Planning and Development was seeking a “nonprofit developer with a mission to provide educational, community, development or historic enhancing opportunities for [the Logan Square] community”.

Logan Square Preservation was that nonprofit, and adopted and restored it in 2010. Since then, Comfort Station has been operated as a multidisciplinary art space. For details and the full calendar, visit All events are free and open to the public.

The Comfort Music Series – Silent Films and Live Music – Comfort Society – Forms & Features Poetry Workshop – Gather Music Series – Comfort Film

Voices from the Square: Jane Heron

As told to Leslie Gray

I moved here in '79. I knew there were a lot of really fine buildings available at very affordable prices. I figured over the long term more people would have the same idea and buildings would get fixed up. At the time, nobody even knew where in Logan Square was. Milwaukee was run-down with vacancies. The effort really fell on fixing up the buildings and promoting that it’s a beautiful place to visit and to live. The Logan Square Preservation House Walk was absolutely key to that.

    Truth is, the horses of the economy were driving people across the river looking for apartments. In the mid '80s, when I was advertising a really pretty apartment in Logan Square, a young woman called me and said, “It sounds wonderful, but I’m not willing to go to Logan Square — you can’t get dates there.” 

photo: Jane Heron        I joined the Logan Square Economic Redevelopment Corporation. It was part of a citywide initiative to get decent properties that were foreclosed on by FHA rehabbed and occupied, utilizing nonprofit groups as the contractor. We did about 10 buildings. The Department of Housing felt that if they turned these properties over to nonprofits, they could be rehabbed and sold at affordable prices. The process was slow, and the area did not have many suitable properties. Also, a volunteer organization has limited capacity.

Jane Heron has lived in Logan Square for 40 years. During this time she has been a landlord, a community organizer and an activist. She spoke to Logan Square Preservation about the shifting demographics of Logan Square, the Economic Redevelopment Corporation and her thoughts on the changes happening today.

And there was a bigger problem — the multi-unit structures. We tried to rehab a building at Central Park and Lyndale but were in over our heads. We stopped receiving properties in maybe ’85? I think the program was a sign of the times.

    I have very complicated feelings about gentrification. I wish it could happen without pushing out low-income people, but there’s no recipe for that. As for the future, I think prices will keep going up. I think we’ll see more tall buildings. (On Milwaukee, nothing was supposed to be taller than the Congress Theatre. Hah!)

    I’m sure that in the 1920s nobody ever thought that the neighborhood would go downhill and become seedy so that young Yuppie tech people could buy buildings for nickels and dimes and fix them up. But that’s what happened.

THANKS to our CONTRIBUTORS     Ian P. Murphy – Leslie Gray – Shana Liberman – Betsy Elsaesser. Editing and Layout Leslie Gray – Ian P. Murphy – Vicki Logan (Print) – Steve Isakson (eMail).
Grace Furniture  The Story Behind the Sign

It’s 2009. Steve Hier and Ward Miller are strolling down Milwaukee Avenue. Hier, a home inspector and neighborhood resident since '77, and Miller, “were the guys sniffing and scratching,” Hier said, “because if you don’t keep your eyes open, you’ll get stepped on.”

Sure enough, they found construction debris poking out of the long-vacant Grace Furniture building. 

    The five-story structure, built in 1915, had been empty since the namesake furniture store closed in 2006. Plans for its second life were tossed around like dice—Cheetah Gym was the top contender at the time. When Hier shined his flashlight inside, suspicions were confirmed. Someone was doing work without a permit. That wasn’t the only thing that would happen on the sly. A few years later, a “battle of the billboards” saw the building’s exterior occupied by unapproved signs from Pepsi, Google, and most famously, the B-movie bomb “Aloha”. The one-year anniversary of the film’s closing was celebrated with a tiki party in the Square. 

    Eventually, Logan Square Preservation and the city won a legal battle against the billboard’s owner, Visualcast, who had sued Logan Square Preservation and its current president, Andrew Schneider. In May 2016, the signs went down. “If you’re going to make trouble, make a phone call or have others do it for you,” Hier jokes. “If you’re in it, prepare for a long fight.”

    Fast-forward to the summer of 2019. The former warehouse at 2618 N. Milwaukee Ave. is, at least on paper, the future home of the Grace Hotel — a 44-room boutique establishment with windows facing the square and a rooftop deck.   – Leslie Gray

    Keep up with the latest news about this story on Facebook or our website at

 PRESIDENT Andrew Schneider      VICE-PRESIDENT John Concannon
 TREASURER Bruce Anderson      SECRETARY William Bennett
 Elizabeth Blasius - Betsy Elsaesser - Shana Liberman - Vicki Logan - Steve Niketopoulos - John Parizek - Kerry Shintani - Kate Slattery - Jaime Szubart - Michelle Warner - Barnaby Wauters
Logan Square Preservation is a 501(c)3 non-profit.

Copyright © 2019 Logan Square Preservation, All rights reserved.

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