The tradition of building lavish, elaborate Catholic churches goes back several centuries. As such, when Loyola felt the need to construct its own church, it required a substantial amount of money. Fundraising efforts for Madonna della Strada Chapel, spearheaded by the University, began slowly in 1924 but stalled during the Great Depression. However, the university remained committed to obtaining funds. Finally, construction on the chapel started in 1938 and completion of the exterior occurred one year later in 1939. As a result, the chapel held services despite the interior remaining unfinished for several years.
Madonna della Strada Chapel exemplifies the Modem Classical style, which is related closely to the Art Deco style that proved to be a favorite architectural design during the 1920s and 1930s, especially in Chicago. Art Deco derives its name from the 1925 Paris Worlds Fair -- the Exposition des Art Decoratifs -- that emphasized highly decorative modem architectural and decorative styles. Madonna della Strada Chapel possesses many characteristics tied to the Art Deco style, including both its overall form and use of abstracted Classical and geometric ornament. Included in the ornamentation are modeled images of religious symbols attributed to the four New Testament evangelicals: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Madonna della Strada Chapel also exhibits features associated with European modernism known as Expressionism, which combined Utopian hopes of social reform through architecture, including the use of glass and metal. Its influence can be seen in the boldly shaped and detailed front facade of the Madonna della Strada, as well as the visually striking rose window, the limestone-and-glass block apse, and the prominently fashioned bell tower.