Chicago Jefferson Township H.S. “Bulldogs”

Chicago Jefferson Township HS Building – 1883
A large building with a fence in front of it

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Photo from the Dr. Theodore M. Bacmeister Collection, Irving Park Historical Society Archives
Former Mayfair School Building
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Photo by Cody Cutter (Feb. 2009, on grounds of former JHS Bldg))

The History of Chicago Jefferson Township High School

Chicago (population 2.8 million) is in northeastern Illinois in eastern Cook County. Lake Michigan, along with the Chicago and Des Plaines Rivers being the main waterways in the city. Interstates 55, 57, 90, & 94 will all lead you to the “Windy City,” as will numerous state and US highways. From what started as a small village in the early 1800’s along the banks of Lake Michigan, Chicago has grown to the nation’s third largest city and one of the most famous places in the world, as the result of an ethnically diverse community that adopted the city.

According to the Northwest Chicago Historical Society website (, Jefferson Park was established as a separate community in the 1850’s in today’s northwest side, and grew to 800 residents by the 1860’s. In 1889, Chicago swallowed up Jefferson Park and communities in Jefferson Township (including Lake Park and Rogers Park) as Chicago grew to become the second largest city in the nation.

Jefferson Township High School opened on Chicago’s north side in 1870 after high school education began to reach of number of people who believed that further education beyond the grade school level would be benefical in getting ahead in life. The first school was housed in the town hall before relocating to the corner of Wilson and Knox in 1883.

The school continued to serve the neighborhood until 1910 when Carl Schurz High School took over educating the Jefferson students. Laura Marie Sanchez offers the following historical information regarding Jefferson Township High School:

“This photo (at the top of the page) was taken in 1883, although it was known as Jefferson Township High School as opposed to Jefferson Park. We don’t have anything that indicates it ever was, although maybe someone can verify that.

The building you have pictured (second photo on this page, above to the right) is the old Mayfair Public School. JHS’s building stood directly to the south of the building pictured (now the Irish American Heritage Center) and they stood side by side for a long time, rather than one replaced the other.  I don’t know when exactly it (the JHS building) was demolished, though. The Mayfair school building became Mayfair Junior College or something, at one point, before it was beautifully restored and became the IAHC.”


Year opened:                  1870

Year closed:                   1910

Now known as:                Schurz High School

School colors:                 Purple & Gold

School nickname:            “Bulldogs”

School song:                   unknown


Jefferson did offer football and girls’ basketball, according to research done on the IHSA website ( It is possible the boys had their own basketball team, plus could have participated in other sports such as baseball and softball. Jefferson was a member of the Cook County League starting in 1896, but was not crowned a team champion in any sport while it existed. We are hoping that someone who may have information about sports offered at the school will be able to fill us with the details.


The school did take to the gridiron during the fall as a member of the Cook County League in those days. Although there are no win-loss records or coaches’ names available, we are aware that a W. Hodgson from Oak Park-River Forest converted six touchdowns against the school on October 13th, 1897. This is one of the highest point-after touchdown totals by a player in a single game.


When the Cook County League was formed in 1900, Jefferson was a member within the first couple of years along with West Division (who was a charter member), later joined by Lake (now Tilden), Medill, and South Chicago (now Bowen).

Other Facts and Information

From Robert Bank:

“There were 24 girls and only 6 boys in the Jefferson High School graduating class of 1897. The successor to Jefferson High, which is Carl Schurz H.S. inherited the same school colors of purple and gold, perhaps they inherited the same nickname too, the Bulldogs. All of Jefferson High’s records are still at Schurz High School.

The class song of 1897 is really long, but it does include a couple of interesting stanza’s such as:

“Now let there be the royal wave of purple and gold”


“Hurrah! Hurrah! for Jefferson, with all our might and main.

Hurrah! Hurrah! for Jefferson fill up the glad refrain.”


to help research the history of Chicago Jefferson High School. There are three ways to do so:

1) click on this Guest Commentary link and submit your information;

2) email us at; and

3) send it USPS to

IHSGD Website

6439 North Neva

Chicago, IL  60631

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