Chicago Harvard School

Chicago Harvard School Building
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Original Chicago Harvard School Building
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Submitted by Ellen DePriest
1920 Harvard School Yearbook cover

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Courtesy of “Nancy”


                                The History of Chicago Harvard School

Chicago (population approximately 2,800,000) is situated in the far northeastern portion of Illinois in the heart of Cook County. Highways leading to and from Chicago include I-55, I-57, I-88, I-90, and I-94. Several railways also take you into the nation’s third largest city. Lake Michigan serves as Chicago’s eastern border and was vital (and still is today) to Chicago’s early growth and economy.

The area in which Chicago is located was first settled in the very early 1800’s. The mouth of the Chicago River at Lake Michigan served as an important waterway from the east to the west. The town was organized in 1832 and chartered as a city in 1837. Chicago’s population that year was 4,180.

By the late 1800’s, Chicago was a boom town, the population increasing at a rapid rate. Along with this boom came the need for education. Residents saw to it that their children were given many opportunities. Along with the growth of public schools came the establishment of several private and parochial schools.

Chicago Harvard School (aka The Harvard School) was formed in 1865 by Edward S. Waters, a Harvard University graduate. Waters’ plan was to have a school that would prepare boys for college and university work at Harvard and other prestigious Eastern schools. The school began at the corner of Congress Parkway and Wabash Avenue, and eventually moved to the 4700 block of Ellis Avenue. Along the way, it absorbed the Princeton-Yale School and male students from the South Side Academy.

The school would be a mainstay on Chicago’s South Side in the Kenwood & Hyde Park neighborhoods, near the University of Chicago campus. Over time, such prominent families as Armour, Field, Walgreen, Rosenwald, Drake, Kellogg, Burnham, and Burroughs would send their sons to the Harvard School.

Due to declining enrollment, the Harvard School closed its doors in the spring of 1962 and was purchased by St. George School, which merged the two schools together as a co-educational facility and became racially integrated as the South Side of Chicago changed in the 1960’s.

As you can tell above, the school building still stands today, but is now three condominiums with living space on each floor, and the gymnasium (not shown, in the rear) has been renovated into a family home. Click on the photo above and you will notice in the top lefthand corner of the building the year 1865 is engraved to signify the school’s first year of operation. Then in the top righthand corner, the year 1916 is etched to show the year that this building on South Ellis was built.

Faculty autographs from 1920 Harvard Yearbook
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Harvard School Teacher J.J. Schobinger
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from 1920 Harvard School Yearbook (courtesy of “Nancy”)

Year opened:              1865

Year closed:                1962

Became known as:     Chicago Harvard-St. George High School

School nickname:       Hurricanes

School colors:            Black and Gold

School song:              unknown


The Havard School was a charter member of the Cook County League in 1888 with public schools from the city, but eventually left in 1891 and helped from the Interprepatory (aka Preparatory) League in 1895. The school was without a conference affiliation from 1907 until 1935 when it joined the Private School League. Harvard was competitive in a number of sports and helped introduce golf to its fellow conference members during its days in the Interpreparatory League. Outside of golf, the school offered football, track, baseball, basketball, and swimming to its male athletes.


Starting out in 1888, the Cook County League offered gridiron action as Harvard was ready to put its best against the rest of the schools in the county, winning the titles at 6-1 (according to historian Robert Pruter). The Harvardians continued their success in the Inter-Prepatory and Private School leagues, with 12 conference titles thru 1960, thanks to information we’ve received from another one of fine contributors, Tom Sikorski. Here’s a look at those teams:

1888   6-1     Cook County League Champs           coach unknown

1897              Inter-Prepatory League Champs      coach unknown

1899              Inter-Prepatory League Champs      coach unknown

1902              Inter-Prepatory League Champs      coach unknown

1924   2-3-2                                                            Coach R.P. Williams

1925   5-0-1  (good record!)                                   Coach C.C. Wood

1926   2-2-2                                                            Coach C.C. Wood

1927   5-1      (good record!)                                  Coach L.E. Olmstead

1928   3-3-1                                                            Coach L.E. Olmstead

1929   1-3-2                                                            Coach J.L. Hanson

1930   5-0     (excellent record, unscored upon!)  Coach J.L. Hanson

1932   0-5                                                                Coach C. Marshall Fish

1933   5-2                                                                Coach C. Marshall Fish

1936   4-2     Private School League Champs        coach unknown

1937              Private School League Champs        coach unknown

1938   5-1-1   Private School League Champs        Coach Les Dohr

1947   7-0      Private School League Co-Champs  Coach Les Dohr

1948   6-0      Private School League Champs        Coach Les Dohr

1950   7-1                                                                 Coach Les Dohr

1954   3-1-1   PSL White Division Champs              Coach Les Dohr

Lost to Wheaton Academy in PSL Championship Game

1957   5-1      PSL White Division Champs              Coach Les Dohr

1960   5-1      PSL White Division Champs             Coach Les Dohr

Last win in school history was a 13-6 victory over Winnetka North Shore Country Day


Harvard put a team onto the links as early as 1899 when it played Chicago University School in the first-known interscholastic golf match between two Illinois secondary schools. The school may have lost by a score of 19-4, but it came back and played Chicago Manual the next year. From there, it won three conference titles during the first half of the 20th Century, led by two of the top amateur golfers in the country, Mason Phelps and Warren K. Wood (see below).

1901     Inter-Prepatory League Champs           coach unknown

1902     Inter-Prepatory League Champs          coach unknown

1938     Private School League Champs            coach unknown


Harvard was a founding member of the Inter-prepatory League, as it participated in the first-ever sporting event of the new alliance in June of 1895. While it was in that conference, it won one league title and also produced an Olympian in Walter Dray, who would compete in the pole vault at the 1904 St. Louis Olympics (see below).

1899      Inter-Prepatory League Champs         coach unknown


The school’s talent pool was deep enough to snare two Interprepatory League championships around the turn of the 20th Century as Harvard won on the prep diamonds of Chicago. Names of coaches and players are missing.

1899     Inter-Prepatory League Champs         coach unknown

1905     Inter-Prepatory League Champs         coach unknown


Harvard added a pair of hoop titles to its trophy case in the late 1930’s of the seven it collected between 1935-39 in the Private School League, competing against the likes of Luther InstituteNorth Park Academy, and Woodstock Todd Seminary. Here’s a check at some of the results:

1923-24   11-  5                                                       Coach R.P. Williams

1924-25   10-  4                                                       Coach C.C. Wood

1926-27     2-15                                                       Coach C.C. Wood

1927-28     9-  7                                                       Coach L.B. Olmstead

1928-29     7-  7                                                       Coach L.B. Olmstead

1929-30   14-  5                                                       Coach J.L. Hanson

1930-31   12-  1 (great record!)                               Coach J.L. Hanson

1932-33     3-11                                                       Coach C. Marshall Fish

1933-34     9-  9                                                       Coach C. Marshall Fish

1935-36                Private School League Champs coach unknown

1936-37    12- 6                                                        Coach Les Dohr

1938-39                Private School League Champs coach unknown


Score one for the tankmen of Harvard! The school offered this sport in the late 1930’s and won a conference title. More information would be gratefully appreciated.

1937         Private School League Champs               coach unknown


Thanks to our good friend and Illinois prep historian Robert Pruter, there were several athletes that made their mark in the sports world from Harvard. Here’s a capsulized look at them:

–Mason Phelps—Was a member of the Western Golf Association team that took first in the 1904 Olympic Games, and as an individual he took fifth. He won the Western Amateur in 1910.

–Warren K. Wood—Was the Western Interscholastic champion of 1904, and just out of high school, was a member of the Western Golf Association team that took first in the 1904 Olympic Games in St. Louis. He won the Western Amateur in 1913.

Jerry H. Weber—As a top schoolboy tennis player, he won the University of Chicago interscholastic in 1914 in singles, and with his brother James won the doubles in 1913 and 1914. In the University of Illinois Interscholastic, he won the singles in 1912, 1913, and 1914, and with his brother won the doubles in 1913. He took second in the National Interscholastic at Newport, Rhode Island, in 1914. He later became a notable professional.

–Walter Dray—He took sixth in the pole vault in the 1904 Olympic Games, but for a while, he held the national collegiate record in the event.

–In addition to these four athletes, author Edgar Rice Burroughs attended Harvard in 1888. He later became famous for writing the Tarzan series of books, and was one of the first writers to incorporate his own works in order to have more control over them. In addition, he also penned the Barsoom pages about life on Mars and other science fiction novels, including The Land That Time Forgot.


from George Karnezis (class of 1961):

I am a graduate (1961) and also played on its championship football team (1960) – the last year of football at Harvard. The sports teams were called Hurricanes. We competed successfully against much larger schools, especially in basketball.

“I’ll always remember my Latin teacher, Miss Faye and her classes of only half a dozen or fewer which meant you’d better be prepared because you’d be called upon a lot. That was solid discipline.

“Coincidentally, 8 years after graduation, I got a position teaching English at U. of Northern Iowa where my old math teacher, Julius Wiesenfeld, was also a faculty member.

“When I heard about the building’s latest history, I wondered if anyone did anything with all those trophies and or photos that lined the walls on the first floor.

PS: I co-edited the 1960-1 yearbook.”

from Gurnee Bridgman (class of 1949):

“Just looked at Harvard Boys internet write up. Both my brother–King (now deceased) and I went there. I graduated in ’49 and I believe King did so in ’46. that’s been some time back. We both subsequently graduated from U. of Michigan. After retiring, I also graduated from Bemidji State with a MA.

“Probably fairly doubtful if many remember us. It’s been a long time. I now live in Fargo, ND. Have lived in seven states over the years (IL, MI, WI, OH, LA, MN & ND).”


about the history of The Harvard School of Chicago, and you’re invited to join us so that we can tell the story of this school that nearly stood alone for close to 100 years. Please contact us at or send your information thru the USPS at:

Illinois High School Glory Days

6439 North Neva

Chicago, IL  60631

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