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The fire had a devastating impact on the surrounding community. Many of the families and friends of the victims moved away because they could not remain near reminders of the fire. Fire related exodus paired with the nationwide urban population shifts of the 1960s led to rapidly changing neighborhood demographics. Here is a brief timeline of the post-1958 Our Lady of the Angels parish.

Our Lady of the Angels Parish History (Post-1958)

New School 1959

Msgr. Cussen spearheaded the construction of a new school, while the students temporarily attended nearby schools. The new school was completed during the summer of 1960.


Msgr. Cussen (many claim because of the stress caused by the fire) had a stroke.


Fr. Kelly became the new pastor. Construction of Kelly Hall, a gym and social center began soon after.


Kelly Hall was dedicated. The dedication of this building completed the parish complex.


Kelly Hall MuralBlockbusting moved into West Humboldt Park. Blockbusting is a summary term for discriminatory real estate practices for all races that essentially forced white people from their homes to create unfairly high housing prices for black people. It was estimated that 60 different real estate firms were working simultaneously in West Humboldt Park to initiate the rapid turnover of housing. In November of that year, the parish created Our Lady of the Angels Committee Against Panic Peddling to combat these discriminatory tactics.

By the early 1970s, much of the neighborhood had begun to shift. Many jobs moved with the whites who left. The African Americans who moved into the neighborhood found not only few jobs, but also discriminatory hiring practices for those jobs that were available. The resulting high unemployment rate and poverty soon led many to search for alternative, illegal forms of income, which continue to plague the neighborhood today.


Fr. Kelly dies. A series of pastors follow.


A number of black families joined the increasing number of Spanish speakers and Filipinos as members of the parish. Parish boundaries changed regularly as surrounding parishes began to close.


Our Lady of the Angels parish closed due to an insufficient number of parishioners. The remaining parishioners became members of St. Francis of Assisi parish at the corner of Kostner and Augusta.


The school closed as a Catholic school. The Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary leave Our Lady of the Angels.

Picture and information source: Morgan, Eric. “Our Lady of the Angels Fire Memorial,” last modified May 26, 2013,