Today, April 11, 2015, would have been the 85th birthday of Anton Szandor LaVey. I don’t know how many times I had read or heard that Anton LaVey, the author of the Satanic Bible and founder of the Church of Satan had been born or raised in the area of Chicago where the John Hancock Center now stands.
Being a fan of Chicago history and the art of true historical research, it really irks me when other authors or “historians” either fabricate stories in order to sell books or tours or at the very least perpetuate historical lies or inaccuracies by not searching for primary sources to back up their or someone else’s sensationalist claims. Much of my frustration comes from the fact that historical fact is many times more entertaining than historical fiction.
As most of the stories go, Anton LaVey is born in his family’s exclusive home in the 800 block of North Michigan Avenue in 1930 and because of this fact the John Hancock Center is virtually cursed and this curse is or could be responsible for everything from a suicide in the building to comedian Chris Farley’s death on the 60th floor in 1997.
This would make a great back story except for the fact that aside from LaVey’s year of birth nothing about LaVey’s birth is true.
According to his State of Illinois Birth Certificate # 16456, Anton Szandor LaVey was born in Chicago as Howard Stanton Levey on April 11, 1930. There was actually an error on his first certificate where his birthday was listed (typo) as March 11th. A correction was made in May of 1930. He was born to Michael Joseph Levey and his wife Gertrude Augusta Coulton who were both 27 years old at the time and living at 3826 W. Maypole Avenue in Chicago. Michael was a purchasing agent and his wife was a homemaker.
Anton (Howard) was born at the Franklin Boulevard Hospital at 3240 Franklin Boulevard which was only about 6 years old at the time of LaVey’s birth and later became the Franklin Boulevard Community Hospital in the 1940s and finally Sacred Heart Hospital. Franklin Boulevard Memorial Hospital was one of the five hospitals commended for the treatment of the victims of the deadly Our Lady of Angels School fire in 1958.
Both his birth hospital and birth residence were nowhere near the future site of the John Hancock Center at 875 N. Michigan Avenue. In fact they are separated by about 7 miles and would actually be closer to the western suburb of Oak Park.
The family does not appear on the 1930 U.S. Census as far as I could determine but more than likely because the Census was taken on April 16, 1930 and LaVey’s birth certificate was not even signed until April 15th. In all likelihood he and his mother were still in the Hospital at the time of the Census.
The family did not remain long in Chicago and moved to San Francisco, California sometime near Anton’ssecond birthday due to the fact that they appear in the 1933 San Francisco City Directory living at 358 21st Avenue in San Francisco with Anton’s father working as a salesman at Levin’s Auto Supply Store.
The family does appear in the 1940 U.S. Census living at 330 Redwood Avenue in Corte Madero, California with Michael still working as an auto accessories salesman.
The home where the future Church of Satan founder spent the first two years of his life no longer exists. It is merely an empty lot next to 3822 W. Maypole.
The hospital, however, still stands at 3240 Franklin but has been closed since shortly after the FBI raided the place in 2013. Federal authorities raided the hospital in 2013 amid bombshell allegations that doctors were performing medically unnecessary tracheotomies and giving heavy sedation to patients in a process called "snowing."
In March of this year, Edward J. Novak, the owner of Sacred Heart since the 1980s and two top execs were convicted of Medicare fraud.
The federal jury deliberated over parts of three days before convicting Novak, 60, on all but one of the 28 counts against him, including conspiracy and paying direct kickbacks to physicians. The jury found Clarence Nagelvoort, 59, the former chief operating officer, guilty on 11 of 12 counts, while Roy Payawal, 66, the former chief financial officer, was convicted on 17 of 27 counts. Each count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The sentencing hearing takes place in July.
So while we can’t blame Anton LaVey or the Church of Satan for any curses or untimely deaths at the John Hancock Center, could it be possible he had some influence on a now shuttered hospital on the west side of Chicago? Nah…probably just good old-fashion greed.
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