The Peabody Estate.-update The Friary..by Barek Halfhand

 


by Barek Halfhand

 

A sun drenched, mild mid February afternoon brought me back to the Mayslake/Peabody Estate to complete the Friary edition of the site update...on a day with highs in the upper 30's it seemed like a comparably temperate climate as I flashed back to the frost bitten, sunrise sojourn through the fields and sparsely wooded east side of the property to bypass the locked front gates of Mayslake Hall...one wonders if the frigid cold winter and excessive snow fall of 2010 will be attributed to “global warming” or if now our carbon footprints will be the catalyst for the next ice age...either way I suspect the unpredictability of Chicago winters will defy any or all regulatory efforts to stave off the inevitable cataclysmic consequences of our evil, imperialistic ways...the direct sun was a welcomed warmth as the dampening depth of the snow crunched underfoot when I departed the well traversed path that circles the outer parameter the lake...I have had little luck pinpointing the original location where Mr Peabody expired while participating in a a fox hunt on the south side of the lake and the subsequent original site where the replica of the Portiuncula Chapel was constructed in memoriam, but I shall endeavor to continue research on that in the future ...



The history of this property is certainly not restricted to the relatively contemporary Eurocentric

cultural heritage, but as early archival records and archaeological evidence indicates; there where as many as 50 Potawatomi villages in the area between the mid 1700's and mid 1800's and one is described as “near Mayslake in Oak Brook” ...these homogenous, interwoven Native Americans

managed to maintain a relatively peaceful and symbiotic coexistence as fur traders

with the early settlers, many of which intermarried with the migrant French, English, Scotch and Irish while the primarily ”purebred” tribes consisting of Potawatomi, Chippewa and Ottawa were forcibly relocated to reservations west of the Mississippi by way of Andrew Jackson’s “Indian Removal Act” ...the decedent lineage of the “Metis” families (French for “mixed blood”) became the sole remaining Native Americans in the area by that late 1800's...



The future of the enigmatic red bricked building at southern most end of the Mayslake property remains uncertain ...following the Franciscans vacating the premises in late 1991, and following it’s acquisition by the Du Page County Forrest Preserve, it has been at the epicenter of litigation...at present a morass of legal wrangling has stymied all proposals including those

pursuant to the ambitious 12 Million dollar renovation plans to convert the facility into a 93 unit assisted living center by the Du Page Housing Authority... a project that remains contingent on the resolution of a quagmire of zoning restrictions, revamped regulatory commissions and the continued exorbitant expense of heating, grounds maintenance and vandalism prevention measures...the adjusted cost of which is estimated to be well over $60,000 a year, plus it has already been the recipient of several preservation oriented grants, bonds and provisional incentives to reinvigorate the aging, dilapidation besieged behemoth of a building ...there has even been proposals for low income, studio style apartments but that was quickly squelched by local zoning commissioners in the wake of a torrent of protests from the adjacent wealthy subdivisions ...little has been reported in the way of recent updates ...

The building was built entirely by hand by the industrious Brothers of the Franciscan Order over the course of 17 years between 1950-1967 ...following the purchase of the entire estate by The Franciscan Order of the Sacred Heart for $450,000 in the wake of Mr Peabody’s death in 1925,

the original seminary was built on the west side of the property between 1925-27 and was demolished in 1992 ...



Incidentally one of the most recent documented cases of stigmata was that of Franciscan; Saint

Padre Pio ...and as members of this order have been alleged to have the most reported instances of visions and stigmata, the highest concentration of Padre Pio’s exhibition of this occurred during the time frame of the Franciscans acquiring the Peabody property...



The St Paschal Friary is an almost symbolic edification of the changing ecclesiastically institutionalized secularism that sub denominated Catholicism in favor of more archdiocese

concentric ordination ...the blue tarp that is draped precariously over a large portion of the southeast wing’s roof is as unlikely to prevent water saturation as efforts to cling to antiquated theosophies will prevent the ebb and flow of religious modernization ...this building is the is the ultimate iconoclastic religious relic ....



The tracks of a big wheeled, off road vehicle systematically compacted the snow in circular, concentric patterns on the friary’s north lawn...the efforts to meticulously flatten and compact the snow on the stately, hickory and oak dotted stretch of land that overlooked the lake to the north struck me as bizarre ...I thought back to my pervious trip and to the multitude of inexplicable and almost identical in diameter bonfire remains that I encountered as I plodded through the fresh powder padded fields en rout to Mayslake manor as the sun rise pursued me from the east...



My annoyance at the prospect of having my photos tainted by the tread marked landscape was quickly replaced by relief after a mere hundred or so yards of quicksand-like deep snow suddenly transformed into an easily traversable hike across the tractor flattened winter landscape...I elected to make an approach from the northwest as the past summer visits denied me exploration of the overgrowth that strangled the western portion of the property beyond the flight of stairs and Stonehenge like monolithic benches that lined the edge of the western driveway and terminated at a rather steep decline into the thicket below ...

As anticipated; the winter ******** underbrush was now visibly accessible save for assorted burr hitchhikers and thorn ******...the bottom of the staircase revealed a concrete wall and what proved to be a boarded up doorway next to a long inoperative water fountain and PA speakers ...



A square hole in the concrete slab under the staircase almost mocked me with the darkness it exuded ...the flash of the camera exposed a small room with what appeared to be tightly sealed off doorways...one leading south in a probable tunnel to the garage and one to the left, that likely intersected with the boarded up outer entry and back under the pavement overhead to the main building in what I in visualized as an elaborate network of underground catacombs and secret passages... my imagination requires little in the way of provocation to construct such elaborations ( no really) ...when I walked up to the square foot opening in the wall, an almost paralyzing apprehension built up inside of me as my arm crossed over the concrete threshold separating the inside from the out...I felt a gust of putrescent air rush past my shoulder with an almost audible moan...the flash from the camera lit up the black void long enough to confirm the narrow space beyond was also subject to a concerted effort to seal off all of the interconnecting passage ways as described above...the nail secured inner doors and spot weld fortified connecting door leading to the south in the general direction of the parking garages, left me a quandary as to where the stale, crypt like air could have originated but the view I had was limited and a good portion of the room was obscured by this limitation...I actually stumbled back away from the gaping hole as I remembered that I experienced the same fetid, inexplicable groan of exhalation when I crouched down to get a shot of the basement in the courtyard from a small circular hole in a boarded window last summer ( now patched ) ...I followed the outer lower level wall along the entanglement of vines overgrowth until a snow caked ramp led me to street level in between the garage and the main building ...further exploration of the rear of the garage and some careful circumnavigation of spike tipped bushes unveiled a two story chimney incinerator that I was unable to open for inspection because the cross bar latch seemed to be pounded in to immobility by a hammer flattened iron sleeve thus locking the free end of the latch bar in place



As I skirted the evergreens that were once decorative adornments to the rear of the garage but now struggled for distinction among the reclamation efforts of the prairie vegetation, I discovered a short but steep flight of powdered steps along the side of the incinerator structure... stairs that spilled out into an open patch of grassland to the rear and opened bottom portion of the chimney stack ...the scorched, blackened brick interior retained the carnal stench of countless refuge infernos, but even the burned remnants of the last incendiary cinders that once smoldered were now symbolically doused by the squared mound of snow that flaked it’s way down the open flue ...



As I coursed my way back along the back of the rear if the evergreen lined garage, I noticed that every possible window, door, hatch and vent had been effectively barricaded...as I rounded the southeast end of the virgin snow depth that rudely packed my ankle length, side zip business-man style boots, I longed for my snowmobile footgear that I wore last time around ...and while those boots resemble an Ace Frehley costume accessory, they were well insulated and water tight...



Almost all of the lower level door windows were boarded up and while there were some signs of recent vandalism by way of broken windows on the first floor, many of those that remained un shattered were plywood plated from the inside ...contrary to common sense; I found myself wondering if this was intended to circumvent something from escaping from within as much as it was a preventive measure against an illicit entry as I proceeded under the arched passage leading into the courtyard in the center of the main building ...the last time I was here was a night visit and the pervasive darkness of the courtyard and intermittent interior lighting created an eerie, shadow shifting translucent effect when intermixed with the headlights streaking down Rt 83 that bled through from the north facing windows to the 4 stories of narrow windows facing the south end of the courtyard ...



The howling winds of that summer night provided a cacophony of creaking, cracking, whistling, moaning and tarp flapping sounds ....the stillness and light drenched afternoon of this visit did little to help diminish the growing unease or abate the closed in sensation that the outer walls incurred ...sensations that were already welling up inside me as soon as I passed under the arched buttress that seemed like a line of demarcation that separated the relative security of the exterior from the dark oppression dwelling within ...the acoustically isolated quiet was instantly shattered by a concussive thump when a huge slab of sun dampened snow slid from the steeply slanted roof and landing at my heals ...an insidious, cackling laughter echoed from a gaping hole in a fiberglass ceiling-ed basement addition that extended into the ground at about waste level...I continued to shoot off the camera in defiance until I was beset by a sudden loss of equilibrium and nausea...the vexing snicker followed me past the arch as I hastened a my unsteady retreat ....



Here are the unedited (compressed) photos from my mid February 2010 visit (181 total) ....b

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Aanica Aanica
36-40, F
Mar 1, 2010