Chicago Loretto HS (Englewood)

 The History of Chicago Loretto High School

Chicago (population: 2.8 million) is located along the shores of Lake Michigan in northeastern Illinois. From its early days as a Potawatomie settlement, then as the site of Fort Dearborn in 1803, which led up to the formation of the city and its incorporation in 1833 and 1837, respectively, the “City of Big Shoulders” became a major location in the US for various reasons.

Railroads and water transportation were two reasons why Chicago was one of the fastest growing cities in the country during the 19th Century. Today, numerous railroads and highways of interstate, US, state, and local designations bring people together in the city on a daily basis, as does air traffic at O’Hare and Midway Airports. Chicago is a melting pot of people from many nationalities, making it ethnically diverse, and thus is referred to as “the financial, economic, and cultural capital of the Midwest (according to Wikipedia).”

Loretto High School was opened on Chicago’s South Side in the Englewood neighborhood in 1893 as Loretto Academy of Our Lady of Good Counsel, founded by the Ladies of Loretto of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The sisters began with seven students in the former St. Bernard’s Parish school which had been opened the year before and went from there. Despite much opposition from non-Catholic residents in the neighborhood, the order went ahead with plans to purchase property on Stewart Avenue near 65th Street in 1896.

As a result, a new school building was erected, along with a convent and music conservatory on the site which opened sometime after. The first class graduated in 1899 and an alumni association was formed in 1906. The school grew to the point that a new facility had to be built in 1927 next to the convent in a Renaissance style.

Loretto changed its name from Academy to High School in 1941, apparently so it would not be confused with Loretto Academy on 65th Street at St. Cyril Parish (near Mount Carmel High School) in the Woodlawn neighborhood. What is ironic about both schools was that the same order was in charge; they were on 65th Street; and they both educated girls. 

The school continued to remain open until 1962 when it was decided to close it due to declining enrollment. Remaining students were transferred to Loretto Academy and other schools that were closer to their homes. The fate of the buildings is unknown at this time.


Year opened:                                                                             1893

First graduates:                                                                          1897

New building opened:                                                                1927

Name change from Loretto Academy to Loretto High School:  1941

Year closed:                                                                               1962

School colors:                                                                             pale blue & white

School nickname:                                                                       unknown

School song (submitted by Megan Kelly from The Newberry Library):

Blue is the flag of Loretto,
White are the banners that wave:
Strong is the love of her children,
Loyal hearts that are bold and brave.

In every danger of battle,
We call dear Mother to thee,
And with the shield of Loretto,
March on to Victory.

Loretto, Loretto, Alma Mater to me,
Loretto, Loretto, hear our prayer and plea.
Your children are calling,
Calling fondly to thee,
And with your help, Loretto,
We will win Victory!  


Thru the writings of prep historian Robert Pruter, we have discovered that Loretto did offer some athletics in the form of basketball and volleyball. Details are limited, so if you have anything, our addresses are listed below.


The school was a member of the Catholic High School Girls’ Basketball League from 1927-31. It competed with the likes of VisitationSt. Catherine (later known as Siena)LongwoodLoretto AcademyMercySt. Xavier, St. Scholastica, St. MaryAquinasAlverniaWilmette Mallinckrodt, and Evanston Marywood. The league broke up in 1931-32 when the Catholic Youth Organization created its own league.


Loretto got in on the action when the some of the Chicago all-girls’ schools formed teams in 1940. Before the IHSA allowed Catholic schools to become members, Lourdes, Loretto High, Loretto AcademySt. Martin, and Mercy competed in a tournament that year. It wasn’t until 1944 that the Catholic Youth Organization began sponsoring an annual girls’ tournament among the Chicago Archdiocese schools.


There’s no better way to comunicate our feelings about the lack of information about the school. Should you know anything about the extra-curricular activities, please contact us at, or sent it thru the USPS at the following address. The more information we get, the better so we can help the story of Loretto Academy/High School. Our addresses:


USPS: Illinois High School Glory Days

           6439 North Neva

           Chicago, IL  60631  

Loretto HS Junior Class of 1936
A group of people posing for a photo

Description automatically generated with medium confidence
Submitted by Anne Nelson

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