The History of Chicago Immaculata High School
Chicago (population 2.8 million) is located in far northeastern Illinois along the banks of Lake Michigan. It is the third largest city in the United States. Chicago is home to several great enterprises including one of the world’s busiest airports, O’Hare International. Several Interstates and Illinois Routes will lead you to Chicago.
Chicago’s great influx of immigrants in the late 1800’s brought with them a variety of religions. None were more prevelent however than those of the Catholic faith. As the families of this religion grew and grew, the need for the building of schools to educate the children also grew. Thus in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s, several Catholic high schools and grade schools were established throughout the city. One of these schools was named Immaculata.
The early history of Immaculata High School was researched by our own Kev Varney. Here is what he found:
“From the Archdiocese of Chicago’s list of closed schools, the school actually traces back to 1891 when it was opened as St. Vincent de Paul Academy (or just St. Vincent Academy), then changed its name to DePaul High School in 1911, which closed in 1921 when Immaculata opened. Seniors from DePaul HS were able to finish their education at Immaculata. All the while, it was always an all-girls’ school.”
Additionally, the school was established as a centralized girls’ high school on the north side of Chicago, with 235 students enrolled in classes led by 12 members of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) at the Greenlee Mansion. The building was ready for occupation in September 1922 and graduated 93 students (38 of them from commercial courses) in 1923. Even though the school was built with the intention of holding more than it first did in 1922, expansion still took place in 1928 & 1939 when Carmel and St. Joseph Halls were erected.
There is a website still on the internet for alumnae of Immaculata High School. Though it does not appear to have been updated since 2004, the site can be viewed at the web address of www.geocities.com/Eureka/Suite/7896/macemail.html. This website gives the following account of the history of Immaculata High School:
“(Immaculata) was a Catholic school for girls between 1921 and 1981. The school was located at 640 Irving Park Road, Chicago, IL. The building is one of Chicago’s historical landmarks and is still there today – at the corner of Irving Park Road and Marine Drive (in the Lincoln Park neighborhood). Once upon a time, Irving Park Road ended at the school before Lake Shore Drive ever existed.”
The website boasts of an alumnae base of over 8,000 former students. The school building is, in fact, protected by the city of Chicago and was given “Landmark” status in 1984. Its unique design was influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright and designed by Barry Byrnes. A short account of its history can be viewed at the web address of http://turnerscross.com/church/barry_byrne/buildings.php .
Immaculata High School closed in 1981. The school building remains standing today. Lorelei Levesque tells us the building has housed the French Ministry of Education’s Lycée Francais for grades K-12 since 1995.
A link to a video with information regarding the Madonna sculpture that once graced the hall of Immaculata High School was sent to us by Ms. Patricia Lofthouse:
“As co-publicity chair of The Kalo Foundation / Iannelli Studios Heritage Center, I would like to invite you to provide a link on your website to our video of Immaculata High School’s Madonna sculpted by Alfonso Iannelli with assistance from artist Edgar Miller under architect Barry Byrne. These gentlemen were contracted by the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The video Is titled “The Life and Times of the Madonna” and was produced in 2014 in conjunction with a grant from the Illinois Department of Tourism.
Chicago Immaculata High School Quick Facts
Year school began as St. Vincent: 1891
Year opened as Immaculata: 1921
Year closed: 1981
Immaculata HS team nickname: Mighty Macs?
Immaculata HS team colors: Gold & Blue
School Fight Song: “Immaculata Alma Mater”
Day by day, as we work and play,
‘Neath your shelt’ring banner blue,
We sing your name and we cheer your fame,
And our best we pledge to you.
And now in praise our voices raise,
This song of fealty true, so true.
We love you, Alma Mater,
And your colors gold and blue.
We’ll be loyal to the royal
Of your standards noble and true.
You have won our youth’s devotion,
Which each coming year will renew.
Immaculata! Alma Mater!
We give our hearts to you.
Year by year you will grow more dear,
And our mem’ries will ever hold,
A treasure store of the days of yore.
And the friends who will ne’er grow old.
And though some day we’ll be far away,
Our faithful hearts will sing, will sing.