History of St. Boniface Church
St. Ann's began as St. Boniface Church in 1881 in a small frame building on Louisa and Antoinette Streets. The 26 German-speaking families who lived on the far south side of Peoria were the founding families of the church, under the guidance of Bishop John Lancaster Spalding and Fr. Frederick Von Schwedler (the first pastor of the church).
Bishop Spalding requested the Francisscan Friars (from Cincinnati, Ohio) in 1892 to care for the new parish. In thirteen years, the young parish had already outgrown its church. Under the leadership of Fr. Nicholas Holtel, in 1894, the cornerstone was laid for the new Romanesque-Byzantine styled church. The church was built in a little more than a year at a cost of approximately $34,000.00.
In 1924, a terrible storm destroyed the rectory and two towers of the church. The towers were quickly repaired but it was decided to replace the rectory with the present one located on Louisa Street in 1925, where the first school building was originally located.
On December 18, 1966, a music director rehearsing the choir across the street noticed the glow of flames through the stained glass windows in the northwest corner of the church. The fire department was immediately notified but unable to extinguish the fire before the roof and one of the two copulas collapsed. The origin of the fire was never determined. The church interior was destroyed, but the parish was not. Mass was offered in the school cafeteria while the church was rebuilt. On April 27, 1969, the Church was rededicated and the doors opened to a new and modern interior.
History of St. John Church
Another Catholic Church stood just four blocks away, rich with history. In 1890, Rev. John P. Quinn, assistant pastor of then St. Patrick Church canvassed an area between Cass and Antoinette Streets, Eliza Street (now Sumner), Lincoln and Western Avenues to secure 150 families of the Roman Catholic Church. In July of that year, he announced that services were to be held in the new parish -- St. John. The first Mass was said on July 14, 1890, at Saenger Hall (at the corner of Olive and Center Streets). Fr. Quinn purchased five lots at Antoinette and Peter Streets (now Blaine) for the purpose of building a brick Romanesque-Revival Church and a rectory. The cornerstone was laid in 1891. Mass was held in the basement of the church until it was completed in 1892, at the cost of $20,000.00. Bishop Spalding dedicated the church on July 17, 1892. What is interesting to note is the fact that pies (yes, pies!) helped build the church! Johanna Dutter would make 25 pies and Nathan Dutter would sell them. Twenty-five more pies were made, 25 more sold and so on. The proceeds from the pies sold were donated to buy bricks for the church.
On August 31, 1898, just after 8:00 am, a young boy discovered a fire shortly after he saw a yong woman leave the church. It is rumored she was upset with the pastor and Church. Repairs were made to the badly damaged church. Then in 1924, lightning destroyed the original tower and clock. A more simplified roof replaced the steeple.
After 103 years, St. John Church permanently closed its doors when it merged with St. Boniface. Each Church said their final Mass on June 26, 1994. Many prayers, leadership, work, friendships, and sharing helped the merger of St. John and St. Boniface to become the St. Ann of today.
History of the South Side Catholic Community
The South Side Catholic Community was established in 1975 with St. Boniface, St. John, and St. Martin de Porres Parishes. Each parish kept their own records but everything else was shared: First Communion, Confirmation, Penance services, CCD classes and holiday Masses.
History of the schools of St. John & St. Boniface
St. Boniface School, which was originally build on the present rectory site, began within the same year as the church. The Ursiline Sisters, who had been expelled from Germany, administered the school until 1887, when the Franciscan Sisters took over and served the community for 22 years. Then, in 1909, the Franciscan Sisters of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, took charge of the school.
When the school was outgrown shortly after that, a new school was built at 1408 W. Antoinette Street. On September 3, 1916 the new building was dedicated.
St. John's Parochial school which was known as the "Matthew Henebery Memorial School" was donated to the Parish by Mary Henebery, under the following conditions:
- It shall remain a free school.
- It shall be conducted by the Sisters of the Holy Cross of St. Mary's Academy, Notre Dame, Indiana.
- The Rector of St. John's shall celebrate a Low mass each month for the repose of the soul of Matthew Henebery in whose memory the school had been erected.
The school was dedicated on September 16, 1906.
In 1919, the Franciscan Sisters from Oldenburg, Indiana took over the administration of St. Boniface school until 1925, when the Benedictine Sisters from Nauvoo, Illinois accepted the administration of the school until its closing.
In 1971, the schools of St. John, St. Boniface, and St Martin de Porres merged to become the South Side Catholic Community School.
When the schools merged in 1971, the lower grades were taught at St. Boniface and the higher grades at St. John. An addition of St. John's school later housed the South Side Office of Concern for a number of years. In 1989 the empty school was torn down.
After 118 years of graduations and memories the school closed its doors permanently at the end of the 1998-1999 school year. The school was razed in 2006.