Champaign St. Mary’s High School

Champaign St. Mary’s High School Bldg 1878-1915
Submitted by Ross Brown

The History of Champaign St. Mary’s High


Champaign (population 75,220) is located in the east-cental portion of Illinois in the heart of the county it is named after.  Interstate Highway 57 and 74 travel directly through Champaign while Interstate Highway 72 gets its start and heads west from Champaign.  U.S. Routes 45 and 150 also travel through the city of Champaign as do Illinois Routes 10 and 130.  CSX Transportation and Illinois Central are two of the railroad lines that pass through town as well. Several small rivers and creeks flow into and out of the city.  Champaign is most well known for being the home of the University of Illinois.

The city was first settled in the early 1850s and officially incorporated in 1855 when the Illinois Central Railroad laid tracks through the area. The town is named after the town and county of the same name in the state of Ohio.

Champaign St. Mary’s HS Building 1915-1931
A large building with trees in front of it

Description automatically generated with medium confidence
Submitted by Ross Brown

Ross Brown provided the following history information regarding Champaign St. Mary’s High School:

“St. Mary’s Catholic Church was established in 1854 as the first Catholic parish in Champaign County. Its first church was destroyed in a tornado and rebuilt in 1858 on the same site at Park Street and Wright Street. The third and current church building opened in 1888.

St. Mary’s Parochial School was founded in 1878 students through high school. A new building was built in 1915 on the same site as the original. St. Mary’s School offered religious education for students through the 11th grade until 1931, when the school cut back to just first through eighth grade. Catholic nuns served as school teachers. The school maintained an enrollment of around 250-300 students most of its history. St. Mary’s School was closed after the 1967-68 school year. The building had several interim uses afterward, including the Champaign County Mental Health Center. It was demolished in 1997.

Upon the school’s closure, students transferred to Holy Cross School in downtown Champaign, which is still active today along with St. Matthew School in western Champaign. After going 42 years without a Catholic high school, the Peoria Diocese established The High School of St. Thomas More in 2000 on Mattis Avenue at the north edge of Champaign.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church is still active today. It offers weekend mass as well as a daily mass at OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center, formerly known as Mercy Hospital, which is located across Wright Street from the church.”

Champaign St. Mary’s High School Quick Facts

Year opened:                          late 1800s?

Year closed:                           1931

Athletic teams nickname:       unavailable

Athletic team uniform colors:  unavailable

School Fight Song:                 unavailable

Athletics and Extra Curricular Activities

We are in need of your assistance as to whether or not St. Mary’s High School competed in athletics. Currently we do not have any team records or coach’s names to share with you on this page.  If sports were offered, what were the team uniform colors, team nickname, and school fight song for St. Mary’s High School.

We are also certain that the folks of St. Mary’s HS valued a good, well-rounded education for their children. We are confident that band, chorus, and several club activites were offered to the children who attended Champaign St. Mary’s High.  If you have any of this information to share with us, please follow the directions below.


from Jackie Watters (dated February 28, 2020):

“I attended St. Mary’s Catholic School in Champaign….my name at that time was Jackie Roberts. My sister’s name was Debbie and little brother was David. We were one of three African-American families that attended the school.

“My teachers were Sister Carolus, Mrs. Foster, and Mrs. Miller, my sister’s teachers was Sister Vernon, and my brother’s teacher as Sister Immaculate. He was in first grade, I was in third, and my sister was in fourth.

“I remember trying out to be a cheerleader, but I can’t remember what our team’s (nickname) was. I do know that Holy Cross was our rival. I remember the school closing in 1968, and when they tore the school down.

“We attended Mass next door at the church, but we could not participate in Holy Communion because we were Baptist.”

We Need Your Assistance…

…in researching the history and accomplishments attained by the Champaign St. Mary’s High School students, faculty, and supporters.  If you have a photo of the former high school building, or any information you would like to see added to this page, please write to us at You can also send items to us via real mail at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago, Il.  60631

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