Chicago Morgan Park Military Academy “Maroon Warriors”

Morgan Park Military Academy Campus
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The History of Morgan Park Military Academy

Chicago (population 2.7 million) is located in northeastern Illinois in eastern Cook County.  Lake Michigan, the Chicago and Illinois Rivers, and the Des Plaines River are the main waterways to and from town.  I-90, I-94, I-55, and I-57 will all lead you to the “Windy City”.  From what started as a small village in the early 1800s Chicago has grown to the nation’s third largest city and one of the most famous places in the world.

Chicago is known for its MANY individual neighborhoods, several of which were at one time their own town. One of these is Morgan Park which is located on the city’s far southwest side.  One of the school’s that has an incredible history in Chicago is the Morgan Park Academy.  Before the current Academy was set up as it is, the school was known as the Morgan Park Military Academy.

Captain Ed. N. Kirk Talcott and Henry T. Wright were Associate Principals of the Academy in the 1880s. In a flyer around that time, a description of Morgan Park Military Academy was the following:

“THIS is a thoroughly homelike boarding school for boys, and is the leading one of its class in the West.  It is not a reform school, and boys who cannot be handled at home are not desired and will not be received.  Particular attemtion is paid to fitting boys for the best American Colleges and the United States Military and Naval Academies.  Situated on the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad, in the midst of one of the most beautiful suburbs of Chicago, thirteen miles from the city, the location is pleasant, healthful and elevated; the buildings large, well arranged and thoroughly appointed, and the grounds well laid out and cared for.  For further information and Catalouge, send or call at the Academy Buiding at Morgan Park, or at the Chicago office, Room 12, Methodist Church, corner Clark and Washington streets, Chicago, Ill.  Office hours, Wednesdays and Saturdays, from 2 to 3 P.M.”

According to the school’s own website, , the history of the school is as follows:

“Morgan Park Academy…first called Mt. Vernon Military and Classical Academy — was founded on a ridge above “Horse Thief Hollow” during Ulysses S. Grant’s second term as president, just in time for the “Panic of 1873.”  It survived that economic dislocation — and a few others in its venerable history — and has endured and flourished as an independent school for well over a century.

It became Morgan Park Military Academy in 1877, with the Civil War still a vivid memory and while the U.S. military operations were primarily concerned with the resistance of Geronimo and other Native American leaders in the West.

Tuition, in the 1870s, was $400 and included “board washing (twelve pieces a week), [and] mending of under garments.”  Uniforms added another $64.50 to the bill.

It was, from its inception, a proprietary school, with the land and buildings owned by the headmaster, and intended to operate for the profit of the owner.

For a brief period (1890-1892), it was incorporated by the state under the name of the Illinois Military Academy. Operating simultaneously and in near proximity during those years was the “Owen Academy,” an informal school using buildings of the Baptist Theological Seminary to prepare students for entrance in advance of the anticipated opening of the new University of Chicago.

When William Rainey Harper became the founding president of the University of Chicago in 1892, the Academy became the non-sectarian, integrated and co-ed (quite unusual for that time, although the experiment did not survive the decade) preparatory school for the university.  It was located in suburban Morgan Park, on land purchased in part from the Illinois Military Academy, and was given a new name: Morgan Park Academy of the University of Chicago.

Harper’s teachers at the Academy held university rank and one of them, Amos Alonzo Stagg, coached football for a time at both institutions.  Two of the Academy’s alumni –Jesse Harper [1902], at Notre Dame, and Wallace Wade [1913], at Alabama and Duke, became coaches who were later elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. The Academy was also a participant in the first high school basketball game played in Illinois — in 1893,  just one  season after James Naismith invented the game in faraway Massachusetts. It was Amos Alonzo Stagg, who had worked with James A. Naismith at the YMCA Training College in Springfield, Massachusetts, who brought basketball to Chicago.

After William Rainey Harper’s death in 1906, the University of Chicago discontinued its relationship with the Academy, and the school once again became a boys’ military boarding school.

Part of Harper’s legacy, which continues to the present day, is a tradition of high standards, exemplary teaching, and a remarkable loyalty to the school on the part of faculty, administration, staff, alumni, and students.  Just consider the tenures at the Academy of Harry D. Abells (1898-1945), Haydn Jones (1899-1946), Francis Gray (1917-1960) and David A. Jones (1957-1998), among others.  Note, too, how many alumni have sent their own children to the Academy.

The Academy survived the Great Depression thanks, in part,  to two bold moves by Superintendent Harry D. Abells. While other schools were going under right and left, Abells expanded to bring in revenue by starting a junior college (1933) and offering summer school courses — even to girls –from public and parochial schools.

Perhaps the most difficult decade in the school’s history was 1958-1967, after the reluctant decision to de-militarize.  Girls were admitted for the first time in the 20th century in 1959, boarding was gradually phased out, and the school became integrated.”

The Morgan Park Academy is still established today as one of the premier schools in the Chicago area, if not in Illinois.

Chicago Morgan Park Military Academy Quick Facts

Year opened:                                                            1877

Year changed from all-boys Military boarding school:   1958

Changed to:                                                              Morgan Park Academy (co-ed, K-12 facility)

Morgan Park Military Academy team nickname:           “Maroon Warriors”

Morgan Park Military Academy team colors:                Maroon & White

School Fight Song:                                                    unavailable


According to the 1929-30 Morgan Park Military Academy yearbook, the Maroon Warriors competed in the following sports:






Track & Field

In addition the sports of Boxing, Fencing, and Wrestling were offered as intramural sports. MPMA was a charter member of the Mid-West Prep Athletic Conference from 1927 thru at least 1939. They were also charter members of the Academic (or InterAcademic) League from 1896-1910, and were involved with the Western Academic League or Midwest Academic League from 1907-1921.  We have some records and accomplishments we found on the website and from the IHSA website However, a great many of the overall records and coach’s names are not currently available.

MPMA Athletics from 1929-30 Yearbook
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A FOURTH place finish in IHSA competition highlighted the Maroon Warriors’ track accomplishments. This feat was earned in the 1915-16 IHSA ‘C’ Meet which was for private schools. Not to be overshadowed, but MPMA also won 10 conference titles from 1899-1939, according to our good friend and historian, Robert Pruter.

1898-99      Academic League Champions

1899-90      Academic League Champions

1900-01      Academic League Champions

1901-02      Academic League Champions

1902-03      Academic League Champions

1903-04      Academic League Champions

1904-05      Academic League Champions

1905-06      Academic League Champions

1906-07      Academic League Champions

1915-16C    Team Finished FOURTH in IHSA Competition!!

Individual Medalists

Joe Baker              Discus                STATE CHAMPION!!
Shot Put             STATE CHAMPION!!

??  Harvey             220 Yard Dash   2ND Place
High Jump        2ND Place

P. Herriot               440 Yard Dash   4TH Place
880 Yard Run     4TH Place

Final Team Standings

1)  Evanston (E. Academy)                   48

2)  Lake Forest (L.F. Academy)            25

3)  Brazil, Ind.                                     25

4)  Chicago Morgan Park Academy   18

5)  Chicago (Lewis Institute)                 10

6)  Onarga (Grand Prairie Seminary)       6

7)  St. Joseph, Mich.                             4

1928-29    Midwest Prep Conference Champions

1929-30    Midwest Prep Conference Champions

1936-37    Midwest Prep Conference Champions


The Maroon Warriors won one District title before the switch was made to a non-military school. Three conference titles were won by the school in the Academic League between 1896-1909, and the team of 1929-30 had a record of 12-2 as well. Other team records and accomplishments are welcome.

1895-96                   Academic League Champions

1906-07                   Academic League Champions

1908-09                   Academic League Champions

1929-30     12 – 2

1944-45                   District Champions


We know basketball was offered to the boys of Morgan Park Military Academy, however there is no evidence that IHSA hardware was earned. Two conference titles were also captured by the Maroon Warriors in the Academic & Western Academic Leagues. Team records and coach’s names are being sought.

1907-08                  Academic League Champions

1913-14                  Western Academic Champions

1929-30     13 – 10


MPMA turned out a number of pigskin perennials as a member of the Academic & Western Academic Leagues, taking a total of 13 conference championships in 15 seasons from 1896-1910. More information is needed about these teams.

1896              Academic League Champions

1897              Academic League Champions

1898              Academic League Champions

1899              Academic League Champions

1900              Academic League Champions

1901              Academic League Champions

1902              Academic League Champions

1905              Academic League Champions

1906              Academic League Champions

1907              Western Academic Champions

1908              Western Academic Champions

1909              Western Academic Champions

1910              Western Academic Champions


The Maroon Warrior linksters had some measure of success as well. Inspite of having no individual medalist, the team of 1955-56 brought home a FOURTH place overall finish in the IHSA State Match!!

1955-56      Team Finished FOURTH at STATE Match Competition!!

Final Team Standings

                  1)  Arlington Heights (Arlington)                         643

2)  Peoria (H.S.)                                               646

3)  Glen Ellyn (Glenbard)                                   651

                  4)  Chicago Morgan Park Military Academy   654

5)  Winnetka (New Trier)                                    663


The Maroon Warriors may have won a total of four conference championships between 1896-1913, but its’ finest moment may have been in the spring of 1946. Though no individual at MPMA placed at the State Tournament, the team managed an EIGHTH place overall finish!

1895-96    Academic League Champions

1906-07    Academic League Champions

1907-08    Academic League Champions

1912-13    Western Academic Champions

1945-46 Final Team Standings

1)  Danville (H.S.)                                           8

2)  Decatur (H.S.)                                           7

2)  Riverside (R.-Brookfield)                             7

4)  Oak Park (O.P.-River Forest)                      6

5)  Pekin                                                        5

5)  Evanston (Twp.)                                         5

7)  Highland Park (Deerfield-Shields)                4

8)  Belleville (Twp.)                                         3

8)  Chicago (Sullivan)                                      3

8)  Chicago (Hyde Park)                                  3

8)  Chicago (Kelvyn Park)                                 3

8)  Chicago Morgan Park Military Academy  3


One individual medalist highlighted of the Maroon Warrior thespian’s efforts.

1945-46        Individual Medalist

                    Robert Nash           Orig. Oratory          3RD Place




Peter Nick Poulos
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**From Anna Poulos:

“My father passed away May 11, 2013. He graduated from the Academy in 1952. He loved the school and his time there – and his obit photo (posted to the right) is of him as a cadet.”


Seeking Your Assistance

If you have ANY further information about Chicago Morgan Park Military Academy, please share it with us. Photos and information can be e-mailed to us at You can write to us via real mail at:

Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago, Il.    60631

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