Martin Schmidt

Interview Date: April 21, 1978
Interview Location: Narrator’s home, St. Joseph’s Rectory, 1747 Lake Avenue, Wilmette
Interviewer: Denise Rossmann Christopoulos
Duration: 1 hour, 43 minutes


While resident pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Glenview, Father Schmidt organized St. Martha Church in 1919. He talks about renting an old empty saloon on Lincoln Avenue as the first make-shift church. Father Schmidt recalls the organization of local men in hauling oak pews from Evanston to the church, the women in preparing the linens for the weekly masses and Poehlmann’s Greenhouses donations of flowers for the altar which was once a part of the saloon bar.

Of particular interest is Father Schmidt’s remembrances of the roadhouses in town and how they were referred to as the “black eye” of Morton Grove by Archbishop Mundelein. During the Depression years, he developed a rapport with many of the roadhouse owners and used their premises for many church fund-raisers.

Due to his dedication and hard work, Father Schmidt is responsible for setting much of the ground work for the parish of St. Martha until the appointment of the first resident pastor, Reverend Frederick J. Berg in 1922.