Chiappetti Slaughterhouse

“We should slaughter the animals for neighboring farmers, and bought animals from Chicago’s Stock Yards to slaughter and provide meet to area butcher shops,” Michael Chiappetti recalled about the early days.
Restoration planned for old Orland Park Slaughterhouse
Originally published:
By: Jean Fleszewski
Staff Writer
Photo by staff photographer: George Bertonz
May 17, 1992

Orland Park Historical Slaughter HouseAbout six years ago, a 60-ton single-story limestone building was carefully moved along 144th Place from he Andrew Corporation property at 104th Avenue and placed near a village-owned site at Ravinia Avenue.

Village officials had interceded when the building faced demolition to make way for the Crystal Tree development.

The village’s plan was to preserve the old structure, which was constructed of Lemont quarry stone in about 1916. A village planner believed that it was one of the oldest buildings of its type in Orland Park and worthy of saving.

The planner suspected that convict laborers assisted in the construction. Although the structure’s early history is a matter of speculation, which is known is that it once was used as a slaughterhouse and later as a laboratory and for storage by Andrew Corp.

To prevent continuous deterioration to the structure, a new shake shingle roof was placed on the building three years ago by Orland Park’s Old Heritage Foundation. The foundation plans to restore it for use as an interpretive center or a mini-museum.

Until then, the boarded up limestone building remains a curiosity for passers-by, who wonder about its significance and its location.

For members of the Chiappetti family of Orland Park, however, the structure reminds them that years ago the family farmed the land on which the building once stood.

“It brings back memories,” said Michael Chiappetti, who at 68 is the family’s patriarch.

As Chiappetti stared at the old building, he related how his father Fiore and Uncle Sam had purchased the 400-acre farm in 1934 and used the old limestone building as a slaughterhouse for lambs and calves. The farm was sold in the 1950s to the Andrew Corp.

Little did the family realize back then that the animal slaughtering would lead to the founding of the Chiapetti Packing House in the early 1940s. It is one of the two slaughterhouses still in operations in Chicago. About 20 years ago there were more than 100 slaughterhouses in Chicago. The Chiappeti family still deals with veal and lamb, while the other packing house deals with pork.

Today, Michael Chiappetti’s sons, Dennis, 40 and Bryan, 32 own and. Operate the business from two locations, 3810 S. Hasted St. and 3800 S. Emerald Ave.

The Chiappeti clan consists of four other children, David, Janet Shripka Debbie Petrizzo and Michael Jr., a former Orland Park firefighter, who took early retirement because of an injury and helps out at times at the packing house, according to Franco Chiappetti, 16, Dennis’ son, and a student at Sandburg High School.

Franco is unsure whether he wants to become the family’s fourth generation in the packing house business or a broadcaster and journalist.

Orland Park Historical BuildingOrland Park Historical Building - Slaughter HosueOldest Building Structure in Orland ParkChiappetti Family Slaughter House

“We should slaughter the animals for neighboring farmers, and bought animals from Chicago’s Stock Yards to slaughter and provide meet to area butcher shops,” Michael Chiappetti recalled about the early days.

“My father came to this country in 1919. The family lived over on Taylor Street in Chicago where they started killing a few lambs in a garage. The board of health got on them and said they couldn’t do it. Then the Depression came. My father got married and decided to move his family back to Italy.

“Instead they bought the farm (where Chrystal Tree is located today). We raised corn, soybeans and oats, had some milk cows, pigs and chickens. For about 10 years, lambs and calves were slaughtered in the building. Many of the animals were brought from the Stock Yards to Orland Park for slaughtering.”

The former owner of the farm owned a number of drug stores, Chiappetti recalled. “We suspect that former owners made moon shine in the old limestone building, because when we took over the farm we found thousands and thousands of bottles there.”

Michael Chiappetti recalled how as a young he helped out on the farm. He also recalled how 47 years ago he rode in a jalopy from the farm into the village of Orland Park with a neighbor and met Ruth Nicolai, whose father worked on the Wabash Railroad. It was love at first sight and the couple were soon married.

Mayor Melvin Doogan’s wife, Alice, also is a Nicolai and Ruth Chiapetti’s cousin. Over the years several members of the Nicolai family became village trustees.

Michael Chiappetti said he continues to go to his family’s packing house in Chicago every day, where he does “mental instead of physical” work.

“We slaughter up to 1,500 lambs and calves every day, sometimes more,” he continued. “The meat is boxed and shipped all over the United States. It goes to Randy’s Market here in Orland Park, and to Jewel’s and Dominick’s stores. It also goes to a lot of the finer restaurants.”

“The hides are sold to a tannery and are then sent all over the world to be used for coats, wallets, shoes and other items. Even the intestines, after cleaning, are used for sausage casings and for surgical sutures.

“It’s been hard work and long hours” the family’s patriarch said about the longevity of the family’s slaughterhouse business.”But as the family grew, the business grew better. It’s been the repeat business over the past 55 years and the new accounts that keep us going.

“Growth, quality and service keeps us in business,” he continued. “When you give good quality the public keeps coming back to get more.”