Monday, April 29, 2013

Shambhala Saga - 7331 N. Sheridan Road is the original home of Temple Mizpah

When I heard about the plans for the Shambhala Meditation Center to become an unappealing parking structure that, in my opinion, would destroy the ambiance of this section of Rogers Park, I took the information to Autumn, who looked over the information that she could find to try and turn 7331 North Sheridan Road into a historical landmark. According to the information she found, which was limited, it didn't seem like it was possible. 

We took this information to the Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce board, and there, things came into focus. Autumn Davids, the Secretary of the Chamber, put together a letter that was sent to Rogers Park Solutions, with attention to Colonel JN Pritzker.

The Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce proposed that 7331 N. Sheridan Road, instead of being razed and replaced, be converted into a business incubation program so that home based businesses and entrepreneurs could learn their way around the regular running of a business and it's associated fees before moving in to their own storefront.

After the submission of the letter, the Chamber then decided to take this idea to SEED Chicago, and gave them their goal of creating a business incubation program as well, trying to get funding behind the project.

When Mary Parthe contacted the Chamber, their was a bit of phone tag before any conversation occurred  Mary Parthe then suggested that one of their other locations would better benefit this end and then suggested the Chamber work with the Rogers Park Business Alliance

On Apri 23rd, both Autumn and myself, as representatives for the Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce, attended the Rogers Park Builders Group where Mary Parthe was speaking. Their, we waited while they went through the details of the parking structure, which should be made available on the Rogers Park Builders Group's website, until questions were asked for. 

Then, I stood up and mentioned the currently available and unused parking lots that were available, and some of the businesses that rent out spaces. I announced that the Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce is against this structure before sitting and listening to the other inquiries. 

Since, at this point, there doesn't seem to be much that can be done, I would like to share over the next several days Susan Olin's well thought out article in excerpts. 

Excerpt from "7331 N. Sheridan Road" Mansion (the "Shambhala Meditation Center") by Susan Olin.

source: Stop the Lakefront Car Tower (Saturday, April 13th, 2013 blog post)

"According to the encyclopedic 1924 book by H.L. Meites, History of the Jews of Chicago, Temple Mizpah was actually organized in 1919 in Mr. Holsman’s home at 7331 N. Sheridan! The synagogue building on Morse was constructed in 1924 to accommodate the congregation of 350 families. Sixty years later in the 1970s, the then smaller congregation relocated to Skokie.

Mr. Holsman was also a director of the Marks Nathan Jewish Home for Orphans. The Marks Nathan Home opened in the Lawndale neighborhood in 1912 during the height of the immigration boom in America. At the beginning of the twentieth century in Chicago, many poor West Side Jewish immigrants fell on hard times, or even perished, and an orphanage was needed.

In its day, this orphanage provided a very good environment for its children, including music and Hebrew lessons as well as symphony and theater excursions. Some of the famous people who lived there as children include Elmer Gertz, the prominent constitutional law attorney, ( and Barney Ross, the famous Jewish boxer (

Ironically, also according to Meites’ 1924 tome, a well-known lawyer by the name of Nicolas Pritzker was one of the founders and a longtime advocate for the Marks Nathan Home. Nicolas Pritzker was Colonel J.N. Pritzker’s great-grandfather and patriarch of the Pritzker family! The book contains a photograph of the Marks Nathan orphanage home dedication in 1912 with Nicolas Pritzker there. The book also contains individual photos and biographies of both Hyman Holsman and Nicolas Pritzker. Thus, it is quite possible that Mr. Holsman and Mr. Pritzker knew each other.

One Tribune article also indicated that Mr. Holsman’s son, George, attended the aviation school at the Great Lakes military base during World War I. Finally, in 1936 the Tribune reported that Mr. Holsman’s daughter, Jeanne, eloped and married Philip Weintraub of Chicago. Weintraub was a first basemen for the Cincinnati Reds at the time and later played for the New York Giants. He became a notable baseball player in the 1930s and 40s, a time when few Jewish people had ever played in professional baseball.
Weintraub has several impressive career statistics such as the second most runs batted in (RBI) ever in a game at eleven runs! He first played for the Loyola University baseball team in Rogers Park ( and( (photo included). Additional research is needed regarding the occupants of the home after the 1930s.

The Camelot School
(photo courtesy of RPWR HistoricalSociety)
By the 1970s, the 7331 N. Sheridan mansion was utilized as a children’s daycare center, the Camelot School, for a decade and many Rogers Parkers remember going there as children. In the 1980s, the building was repurposed as an Illinois Masonic Hospital Women’s Health Center. Thereafter, starting in 1996, the Shambhala Buddhist organization developed the popular meditation center that is there today. However, the organization is now relocating to a larger space in the West Loop. At the present time, the building is in great shape, charming inside and out while still operating as the Shambhala Center.

Therefore, it is clear that research into one mansion can open doors to the many facets of history in a surprising and wonderful way. This one home sheds light on the formative days of Chicago as a city at the turn of the twentieth century. This was a time when great waves of immigrants settled here and community members organized to establish the city’s first businesses, hospitals, religious institutions, social services, and even sports activities. It would be a horrible shame to lose this gorgeous building that beautifies our landscape and its fascinating history that tells us so much about ourselves.

Note: To see additional Sheridan Road mansions of that era, download the must-see “Book of the North Shore” published in 1910, . (Download PDF version to rotate view!!)

Also Note: History of the Jews of Chicago by H.L. Meites, 1st publication in 1924 by Jewish Historical Society of Illinois, reproduced in 1990 by Chicago Jewish Historical Society."


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