When I first moved to Logan Square, the Christmas house was one of the first historic sites I learned about. It’s been in the neighborhood since 1983 and has been a longtime crux of holiday cheer, family joy and community. For 35 years, the house (2656 W. Logan Blvd.) always brought peace and love to anyone walking, biking or driving past the boulevard. Every time I passed it, I stopped to take in its beauty, snap some pictures and wonder about Frank Lopez, the owner who made it all the ornaments at his workshop, Chicago Wire Design Company.
Earlier this week, news came out that Lopez died last month in mid-November after doctors found a tumor in his lung. Block Club Chicago was first to report the story, which garnered massive attention on social media, other outlets and around the community.
Since the news, the neighborhood has poured out in throngs to express condolences and remember the late Lopez. Over one hundred people gathered in front of the house Dec. 21, celebrating Lopez’s life with caroling and personal anecdotes about him. People were dressed up in holiday garb, children were enjoying the decorations with family and singing along. The mood was reverent but cheerful and emotional, with Lopez’s family speaking to the crowd and media about the impact of Frank Lopez’s work and the future of the house tradition.
Photos: Tom Vlodek
According to Block Club, daughter Peggy Lopez plans to keep up the decorating tradition for now, though she lives in Mexico with her family. As the neighborhood continues to change, I’ve seen less houses with outdoor decoration (except my street is pretty lit this time of year—shoutout to the Whipple crew!), so the Christmas house was always a special unmoving dot in the neighborhood that touched so many people. I still wonder how much the electric bill is every year, but that may be a secret better kept wrapped up.
Scott Arkenberg, neighbor and former music director at St. John Berchmans Church, led the caroling and shared his gratitude for Lopez.
Lopez had been known to host an annual Christmas light ceremony every holiday season, which was always a full-blown extravagant event enjoyed by new and old neighbors. He also got fancy for Halloween, with decorations lining the lawn and house that stood out on the block.
On social media, neighbors posted a flurry of messages remembering Frank Lopez. People called him a “real legend” and one that will be truly missed in the neighborhood.
“Seeing this house is one of our family traditions. Thank you to Frank Lopez for brightening Logan Square for so many years,” wrote another neighbor.
A neighbor on Facebook shared a memory of when her son was little.
“[Frank] took my son on the tour of his yard and pointed all the things to him. He will be missed,” she wrote.
We will all miss Frank Lopez and his beautiful creations that quite literally lit up the neighborhood. Hopefully, his daughter can keep up the tradition and honor his legacy that spread throughout the community for decades!
Featured photo: Tom Vlodek