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By Peter Biggins

In 1994, Rev. John P. Minogue, 10th President of DePaul University, purchased an apartment building that had been built by my grandparents, Leslie and Emily Foy Biggins in 1925. Father Minogue and my grandmother both descend from the Dominick Foy Family, which emigrated to America from a farm in the Partry Mountains in County Mayo, Ireland, in 1848.

Sheffield Square Sign
Sheffield Square
Sheffield Square Apartments on the Lincoln Park Campus of DePaul University at 2318-2326 North Sheffield Avenue, Chicago. Built by my grandparents, Leslie and Emily Foy Biggins in 1925. They lived at 2318, on the left-hand side in the front on the top floor.

In 1925, Leslie and Emily Foy Biggins and four children moved into an apartment in a new building they had built at 2318-26 N. Sheffield Avenue. It was called the University Court Apartments. The children were Kathleen, 22, Philip, 15, Alfred, 14, and Richard, 11. An older child, Emily, had died in the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic. Kathleen had graduated from De Paul High School for Girls in 1921 and was working as a stenographer. The three boys were in school: Philip at DePaul High School, Alfred (my father) at the Vincentian minor seminary in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and Richard at St. Vincent's grammar school.

The new apartment building was just a block or so north of St. Vincent de Paul Church, founded by the Vincentian Fathers in 1875. The present St. Vincent Church opened in 1897. DePaul University, originally known as St. Vincentís College, opened in 1898 and has grown through the years.

The new apartment building was just a couple blocks south of their former home, in a smaller apartment building at 950-952 West Altgeld Street, built by Emily's father John Foy in 1893. Emily had lived there from 1893 until her marriage to Leslie in 1890 and then moved back to the Altgeld apartment building with her family from 1905 to 1925.

From 1925 to 1954, Leslie and Emily occupied the front apartment on the 3rd (top) floor of the 2318 entrance.

The architect for the University Court Apartments on Sheffield was the same that John Foy had used on the Foy Apartments on Byron Street, two blocks north of Wrigley Field.

In 1945, Leslie and Emily Biggins sold the University Court Apartments, but they continued to live there until 1954.

The University Court Apartments are now Sheffield Square Apartments of DePaul University, having been purchased in 1994 by Rev. John P. Minogue, 1946-2019, 10th President of the University. Father Minogue and Emily both descend from the Dominick Foy Family. Dominick emigrated to America from County Mayo circa 1848. Also among the descendants of Dominick Foy were Dolores Tahney Minogue, 1918-2012, my sister Sarah's godmother, Daniel Minogue, my father's godson, my cousin John Foy Coverdale, Professor of Law at Seton Hall University. Father Austin Minogue, 1913-1985, DePaul golf coach, was descended from a brother of Father John P. Minogue's grandfather.

Sheffield Square
Sheffield Square Apartments at DePaul University: exterior/interior photos.

The censustaker for the University Court Apartments in 1930 was Mrs. Helen O'Grady. She recorded 92 people in 27 households: Page 1 and Page 2. Included in the Biggins household were Leslie and Emily Biggins, their four children, and Emily's father John Foy.

Polk's Directory
24 households at 2318-26 Sheffield in the Polk's Directory, 1928-29.
John Foy, age 83, 2318 Sheffield
John Foy, age 83, living with Leslie and Emily Foy Biggins at 2318 Sheffield Avenue in 1931.
University Court Bonds
To fiinance the University Court Apartments, Leslie and Emily issued $500 bearer first mortgage gold bonds with interest at 6.5% per annum payable semi-annually to State Bank of Chicago.

I was born in 1939 and remember visiting my grandparents on Sheffield as a child with my family:

  • going to the Lincold Park Zoo and getting a box of Cracker Jack before the visit
  • walking up the three flights of stairs to the third floor
  • watching tennis players at the Fullerton Tennis Club at 2315 Sheffield between the street and the el tracks (the Athletic Center was not there then)
  • watching the el trains at the Fullerton station, all lit up at night
  • noticing that my grandfather put a lot of vinegar on his food
  • looking at the photographs of us that my grandmother probably put out just because we were coming
  • visiting Jim Carey who lived across the hall
  • visiting Grace Kilcourse who lived on the second floor
  • visiting Kate and Mayme Foy who lived at 2322 Sheffield and later at The Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged on Sheffield between the apartments and Fullerton (built in 1886, now DePaul University's Sanctuary Hall)
  • hearing about my grandfather meeting with Mother Cabrini when he waterproofed Columbus Hospital
  • seeing my Aunt Molly who came over from Altgeld Street
  • visiting the DePaul Day Nursery and Settlement House, which my grandmother supported.
My grandfather John Foy died in 1936, three years before I was born. But I remember the story about how he was present at the Golden Spike Ceremony at Promontory Point, Utah, on May 10, 1869. And I remember two stories about John Foy and Indians out West. In one story, he rounded a boulder and came face to face with an Indian. They scared each other and ran in opposite directions. The other story is that John got sick and the Indians nursed him back to health.

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