Saturday, September 13, 2008
During the 1870s, a tough saloon operated at this location just west of State St., which would then have been 67 E. Van Buren. The bar is better known for its subsequent occupant, a religious group which changed the name of the building slightly to "Pacific Garden Mission," and preached the gospel to the poor and hungry who found themselves on the tough streets of the near South side for the next 130 years. The great baseball player-turned-evangelist Billy Sunday was converted to Christ at this location.
Operating since 1880, the shelter moved from this location to 646 S. State in 1923, where it became civic fixture with a prominently displayed neon sign reminding everyone that "Jesus Saves." That location is currently being demolished to make way for an extension to the high school next door, while Pacific Garden Mission has relocated a new building a few blocks South and West. The photo below shows the demolition site on S. State: