Bloomington St. Joseph’s Academy

St. Joseph’s Academy

A building with trees in front of it

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

Courtesy of Mitch Anheier from 1917 book on illustrated Bloomington, IL landmarks



             The History of Bloomington St. Joseph Academy


Bloomington (population 75,000) is located in the central part of the state of Illinois in McLean County, accessible by using Interstates 39, 55, & 74 as well as US Routes 51 & 150 and Illinois 9. 


The Chicago & Alton Railroad played an important role to the development of Bloomington and its Twin City neighbor Normal (population 45,000) as it was a major employer during its heyday. Route 66 was also a part of the community, but it is not forgotten as you can still travel parts of the “Main Street of America” today.


The community was established in 1830, as early pioneers such as James Allin and Jesse Fell helped get it up and running. The county is named for John McLean, a pioneer lawyer, territorial judge, the first Representative in Congress from Illinois (1818), and United States Senator (1824–25), while Bloomington was given its name originally as Blooming Grove when settled around 1822, slightly changing the name to its current moniker when the county was formed in 1830.


Outside of Abraham Lincoln’s presence in the community, others such as David Davis (a former Supreme Court Justice), baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Charles “Hoss” Radbourne, naturalist John Wesley Powell, politican Adlai Stevenson I and his son Adlai II, and actor McLean Stevenson (a cousin to Adlai II) are well-known figures who lived in Bloomington at one time. Nineteenth Century opera singer Marie Litta (aka Jenny Lind) also hailed from Bloomington as well.


The Bloomington-Normal area is home to Illinois Wesleyan University, as well as Illinois State University. The nation’s number one auto and property/casualty insurance companies, State Farm Insurance, was also founded in Bloomington by George J. Mecherle in 1922.

St. Joseph’s Academy was opened in 1864 at the request of Holy Trinity Parish pastor Rev. Thomas Kennedy, who invited the Sisters of St. Joseph from Carondelet, Missouri to educate the girls who would be attending the school. The building itself was located at the southeast corner of Chestnut and Center Streets, right next to where Holy Trinity Church is today.


Both day and boarding students were accepted thru 1876, when the school closed due to general financial distress on March 11 of that year and the Sisters of St. Joseph left at that time. Immediately, a new order was found to take over as the Sisters of St. Dominic from Sinsinawa, WI resumed classes three days later.


The school was recognized as a school of the Peoria Diocese when the diocese formed in 1877, and it remained in that capacity until its closure in 1925 when it was decided to not have a duplication of services at two locations on the same block, operated by the same parish. The remaining students were sent next door to St. Mary’s High School, which later changed its name to Trinity High School in 1928 when the parish administration of Holy Trinity saw the need to open a new facility due to public demand for Catholic higher education.





Year opened:               1864

Year orders changed:   1876

Year closed:                1925





that may have information or even attended St. Joseph’s Academy for Girls in Bloomington? Here’s your turn to help us keep it alive. Please submit your information to us at or by writing us at:


IHSGD Website

6439 North Neva

Chicago, IL  60631

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