Portage Park Gospel Chapel, IL

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Harold Harper

An excerpt from LOI 1961 April:

"In the fall of 1914, Harold was given a scholarship to attend Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, from which he graduated in 1916. While there he was given a much-coveted practice preaching assignment, but when he found it conflicted with attending the Lord's Supper at Austin Gospel Hall he asked to be excused. He had some difficulty with the dean over this, but as he stood his ground he was relieved and given another assignment.

That one was to preach the gospel in a home in the Irving Park district to a group of Swedes who wanted to hear the Word in English. He was invited back again and again. Boston brethren supplied a tent, and after graduation he preached in it, until a mission was established at Irving Park Road and Central Avenue. About a year of continuous ministry resulted in the planting of the Irving Park assembly in a building at 5614 Dakin Street.

The work expanded over the years and in 1951 the assembly built Norwood Gospel Chapel at Foster and Nagle, where today there are about 175 in fellowship. Thirty brethren remained to carry on at Dakin Street, the work there being known now as Portage Park Gospel Hall."

Robert L. Peterson history

The roots of Norwood Gospel Chapel and Portage Park Gospel Chapel, both in Chicago, date back to 1916. "A group of Christians, dissatisfied with their denominational church affiliations, began meeting together in homes. The interest grew and they sought help from the Moody Bible Institute for someone to minister to them. Among the first sent was Harold Harper, who was associated with the assemblies.

In the summer of 1917, Mr. Harper and others conducted a gospel tent campaign in the neighborhood. The good results created a need for a regular meeting place. At the close of the tent meetings a nearby store was secured at Central Avenue and Irving Park. Here a progressive work continued for four years. In 1922, the Irving Park Gospel Hall, a modest building at 5614 Dakin Street, Chicago, was built. The group at that time numbered about 40.

Henry Petersen built up a large Sunday School and Friday night children’s meetings. Alfred and Edwin Gibbs were also instrumental in building up the assembly. In leadership at the Irving Park Gospel Hall were John Millard Doyle (1892-1960) , George McAllen (b. 1901), Harvey John Langguth (1900-1980), Paul Erickson, John Mall, S. J. Nelson, Charles Howard, Harold Linquist, and Sor Sorensen. The assembly grew in attendance in the 1920's and 1930's, but after World War II, felt they needed to move.

In 1951, after nearly 30 years on Dakin Street, about 125 members in fellowship in the Irving Park assembly moved into the newly constructed Norwood Gospel Chapel, located in a residential section on the northwest side of Chicago at Nagle and Foster Avenues. The Norwood Gospel Chapel has commended several to the Lord’s work.

Thirty of the former Irving Park assembly purchased the Gospel Hall on Dakin Street in 1951 and continued to meet there, calling it Portage Park Gospel Hall.  Continued to meet on Dakin Street until the 2010's when it closed at an unknown year.


1947 Oak Park Oak Leaves

Young People's Rally at Bible Truth Chapel "Is the Bible Out of Date?" This question will be answered by James Spink, F.R.G.S., noted Bible teacher, author, editor, and world traveler, at a young people's rally to by held at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, in Bible Truth Chapel, 1107 Ontario.

With a wide background in religious journalism and an international reputation as a Bible teacher, Mr. Spink has gained fame for the lengthy list of books, pamphlets, and tracts he has written. Many of them have dealt with the subject of Bible prophecy.

Mr. Spink's travels have taken him to Europe several times, and he is well known as a lecturer in his native Britain as well as in this country. He has made several first-hand surveys of mission stations around the world, spending considerable time in Africa and the British West Indies. He now resides in Philadelphia.

A quartet from the Irving Park Gospel Hall will furnish part of the musical portion of the rally program.


1951 August: LOI

Chicago, Illinois, Norwood Gospel Chapel & Portage Park Gospel Hall: The assembly at Irving Park Gospel Hall, Chicago, IL, has now moved to a new location at Nagle and Foster Avenues, and will be known as the Norwood Gospel Chapel. Several of the saints, some of whom were saved in Irving Park Gospel Hall, have purchased the original property and are continuing testimony under the name of Portage Park Gospel Hall.

The two assemblies are in fellowship and seek the prayers of God's people that the Lord will bless in the salvation of souls, the building up of the Church, and the restoration of backsliders.

  • Correspondent for Norwood Gospel Chapel, Nagle and Foster Avenues, Chicago, IL is J. Millard Doyle, 5825 Wilson Avenue, Chicago, IL.
  • Correspondent for Portage Park Gospel Hall, 5614 Dakin Street, Chicago, IL is William H. Davidson, 6821 N. Ottawa Ave., Chicago, IL.

Yours through Sovereign Grace, J. Millard Doyle William H. Davidson

1953 Jan. 29: Atlantic News Telegraph

Cumberland Man Wed In Chicago Before an altar banked with palms and centered with a basket of white gladiolas and pom-pons, Miss Margaret Davis, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Davis of Augusta, Georgia, became the bride of Mr. James Ashley Nichols, son of Mr. and Mrs. James F. Nichols of Cumberland, Iowa, Wednesday, January 14th at 7:30 p.m. The double ring ceremony was performed by Rev. Dale Johnson in the Portage Park Gospel Hall, 5614 Dakin Street, Chicago, IL.

The bride, escorted to the altar by her father, wore a white floor length gown of satin fashioned with lace sleeves and bodice and net yoke. She wore a finger lip veil and carried a shower bouquet of white gladiolas. Miss Bernice Bass, also roommate of the bride, served as maid of honor. She wore a blue satin formal with net yoke and a floral headpiece and carried a bouquet of yellow gladiola.

The groom's brother, Rev. Kendle Nichols, of Orr, Minnesota, attended as best man. Ushers were Charles Nichols and Bruce McLaren of Cumberland. A reception was held in the church basement, which was decorated appropriately. About 60 guests were served refreshments.

Mrs. Nichols, a graduate nurse, has attended Moody Bible Institute one year. Mr. Nichols, a graduate of Cumberland High School, was recently discharged from service, having been stationed as instructor in radio repair school at Camp Gordon, Georgia. They are at home at 510 W. 70th St., Chicago, IL. Mr. Nichols has enrolled in Emmaus Bible School.


1961 May: LOI

"Mr. Tom Olson of Wawona, California, is having a week each of meetings in April at Portage Park Gospel Hall, 5614 W. Dakin St., and Avondale Gospel Hall, 2814 N. Sawyer Ave., Chicago."

1967 Sept: LOI

"Charles Clohsey of Sarasota, Florida, ministered during the summer in eastern Wisconsin, with a visit to the Portage Park Gospel Chapel in Chicago, Ill. His Wisconsin ministry was in Cudahy, Kaukauna where a teenage girl professed to be saved, Casco and Lake Geneva. He did much home visitation, especially in Kaukauna, and was to conduct a week's series of nightly meetings at Casco."

1968 August: LOI

In a brief meeting of the trustees of the Avondale Meeting House Gospel Hall Association, Inc., on June 4, 1968, all the trustees submitted their resignations from the board. Then new trustees were nominated and unanimously elected to replace those who had just resigned. Thus in the secretary's half-page account was briefly recorded a key part of a transaction of momentous significance to two assemblies, one which had found it necessary to move out of the inner city, the other still in the inner city but needing an adequate center for worship and service.

Many of the former members of the Avondale assembly in Chicago, IL had moved away from the neighborhood. Meanwhile, Spanish-speaking believers who formerly met at 912 N. LaSalle St., in the east central part of Chicago had been moving further west. Now as an outcome of a happy agreement between the two assemblies, the Spanish speaking believers own the Avondale Gospel Hall, while believers remaining from the former English speaking assembly are meeting with believers at the Portage Park Gospel Chapel.

The Avondale Gospel Hall is at 2814 N. Sawyer Ave. The correspondent of the Spanish assembly now meeting there is Dr. Nahim H. Nasralla, 1832 E. 87th St., Chicago, IL.


  • William H. Davidson 1951-1970 later moved to Boca Raton, Florida where he died Nov. 30, 1984 after a lengthy illness, while in fellowship with Boca Raton Bible Chapel as well as Portage Park Gospel Chapel.
  • Roy Carlson 1994-2019