Chicago Lucy Flower Vocational H.S. “Foxes”

Chicago Lucy Flower High School
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Courtesy of Ellen DePriest

The History of Chicago Lucy Flower Vocational High School

Chicago (population: 2.8 million) is the nation’s third largest city that grew quickly within its first 100 years. From it’s founding in 1803 and even still today, the city possesses an eclectic feel with its numerous cultures and history that distinguishes the community from others world-wide. Even after a great fire in 1871, Chicago pulled itself up by its bootstraps and rebuilt itself, then annexed other smaller communities such as Hyde Park, Englewood, Lake, and many others.

The people of the city of Chicago have always strived to provide the best possible opportunities for the education of their children. This is true of both the private and public education systems. Lucy Flower High School was a public school created for a special purpose. The following history of Lucy Flower High School is copied verbatum:

History of Lucy Flower High School

“In 1911 Lucy Flower Technical High School opened as Chicago’s first open-enrollment school for girls. It was named after a leading education activist of the late 1800s, Lucy Louisa Flower, who was also the co-founder of the Illinois School for Nursing.

Ella Flag Young. a supporter of Miss Flower’s educational philosophy, was Chicago’s first woman General Superintendent of Schools from 1909 – 1915. The school was headed for twenty-two years by the city’s first woman high school principal, Dora WellsFlagg organized the all-girls school to help young women gain specific skills to help them enter the work force, just like boys were being trained to do at Crane Tech & Lane Tech.

Students could enroll a four-year home economics course which included college preparatory work, while there was also a two-year course for vocational studies such as sewing, dressmaking, and millnery that were close to skills that were displayed by females during the early part of the 20th Century.

Initially, the school was located on the south side of Chicago in the former South Division High School building at the corner of 26th Street and Wabash Avenue, offering skill development in the areas of sewing, teaching, nursing, and social work. In 1927, the school was relocated to the East Garfield Park Community. Flower had become known for providing good education to women. After the school relocated to 3545 W. Fulton Avenue on the city’s West Side, African-American enrollment first declined. However, the school continued to attract girls from the South Side of Chicago due to its open enrollment policy.

Flower remained a technical school until 1956, at which time it was renamed Flower Vocational High School. The school then offered programs in Business Education, Commercial Art, Home Economics, Beauty Culture, and Cosmetology.

Legal mandates in the 1970s required the school to become coeducational. With a co-ed population the school continued to teach vocational skills to both young men and young women. Student run businesses developed.  These were the Flower Pot Cafe’, the Flower Cart, a Credit Union, and Megabytes, which was a computer-generated design graphics business.

The school was renamed Lucy Flower Career Academy High School in 1995.  In 1999 the last freshman class entered the high school. Flower was closed in 2003, after the last class graduated.”

There is good news about the building…it is still used as a high school for Al Raby School for Community and Environment.

Lucy Flower Vocational High School Quick Facts

Year opened:                  1911

Year closed:                   2003

Athletic team nickname:  the “Foxes”

Team uniform colors:       Brown & Gold

School Fight Song:         (sung to “On Wisconsin” tune)


Lucy Flower High School “Foxes” competed in basketball, volleyball, and tennis for certain. If you have any information regarding Lucy Flower High School please contact us for inclusion on this page.


**From Gwendolyn Collins:


I graduated from Lucy Flowers Vocational HS in 1980, and yes, they did have an athletic program.  We had a basketball team, a volley ball team as well as a tennis team.  I was on all three.

As far as the technical training, I’m so grateful for the Business Educational skills I acquired there, including the typing, shorthand, and business class – which led me to pursuing Legal Secretary as a career.  I graduated with superior typing and shorthand skills thanks to Ms. Payne.  Therefore, I always had a way to make a living through those skills.

Very happy memories at Lucy Flowers and I’m still in touch with many of my classmates.

Appreciated reading your article on the history of the school – it brought back memories.

**From Ossie Conner:

“There was a basketball team there, “The Flower Foxes” of course! I went there in 1978. The school colors where brown and gold.”

*From Dr. Mary L. Milano:

“My mother attended Flower Tech and graduated from the four year technical program in 1936 (Catharine L Milano nee Holland). I believe she graduated in the February class. She told me the school fight song was called “Flower Tech” and was sung to the melody of “On Wisconsin.”  The School song, presumably the equivalent of the Alma Mater, was “I love You Fair Flower.”

I recall her saying that the girls had to stay on one side of the stairways to go up and the other to go down, a rule that was strictly enforced. The technical students took a regular academic load and also subjects including tailoring, pattern-making, quantity cooking and the like.

There was a fair distinction between the technical and vocational girls, I guess, although many from across both programs suffered the economic issues of the depression era.”

**From Ella Kraus (Styrsky):


“When I attended Lucy Flowers High School, the principal of the then all-girls school was Sophia Thailguard. The Garfield Park Conservatory across the street allowed us to use its tennis courts for school credit. Two students shared a locker, each furnishing her own lock. Good students would be sent as couriers to deliver communications between teachers. THe stairs were designated for one direction travel only for traffic flow. Sometimes we called the school “Juicy Flower” because of Juicy Fruit chewing gum. Women would leave children for child care experience for the students, even paying students to prepare a a dinner for their charges. Students would come in from boys schools for school dances too.”

**From Karen F. Thoma:

“My name at the time was Karen F Thoma, my sister- Mary Jean Thoma attended what we called “Lucy Flower” I would have graduated with the class of 1960; but, our family moved to Columbus,Oh in Nov. 1959. I have many fond memories of teachers and friends there. Even though the school was in a disadvantaged area it was OUR school and were proud to be there. My best friend was Gladys Williams ( I would love to make contact with her if you could assist me.) My favorite teachers were Mrs. Lussenhop who was the home ec. instructor and Mr Folkers . I believed that he taught social studies.”


**From Sharon Davis:

“I attended Lucy Flower from 1968-1972. I credit the educational guidance that I received there as a platform to gainful employment. I was part of the work study program in my senior year and was employed at Chicago Title and Trust. My teachers were competent and professional: Mrs. Stephenson, I still am adept at shorthand and ‘correct’ typing thanks to your masterful instruction; I thank you. My English teacher, Mrs. Novak exposed us to the world of the classics: I remember “Great Expectations” and “The Lady or The Tiger: I thank you for your support in introducing me to excellence in literature.”


Can you add some facts regarding the Flower High School lore on this web site?  Sports team nickname, school colors, especially records of all the championship teams and coaches names would be interesting, if athletics were offered. Also a photo of the old high school building and its status would be sought to share.  Please help by completing a School Submission Form or Guest Commentary Form.  You can also e-mail us at or write us at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago, Il.  60631

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