Chicago St. James High School



    The History of Chicago St. James High School

Chicago (population 2.8 million) is located in far northeastern Illinois in the center of Cook County. Lake Michigan (one of the “Great Lakes”) serves as Chicago’s eastern border. Chicago is one of the largest cities in the United States and boasts of several museums making it a fantastic place to visit for history buffs.

It is also home to several professional sports teams, most notably the Bears, Bulls, Cubs, and White Sox. Chicago has strived to provide a good education for its children. High schools have been built in Chicago since the early 1850’s. In addtion to the many high schools that have been established over the years, there are those which have went through name changes and identity makeovers.

St. James High School was opened by the Rev. Hugh McGuire in the former St. James’ Rectory. Twenty-five girls were in attendance when the Sisters of Mercy opened the school in September 1890. That number grew to 136 by September 1896 from parishoners on the north and west sides of Chicago, which meant that a new building would be built and ready for use the following year. A commercial course of study was added in September 1902 with boys allowed to enroll in those courses.

The school became co-ed in 1906, by which time St. James had students from kindergarten to 12th grade in the school. Most graduates went onto Chicago Normal College (now Chicago State University), and scored very high on their entrance exams. There were about 400 St. James graduates that became public school teachers by 1911 when Fr. McGuire passed away. When the school was closed in 1924, it was believed that about one thousand students graduated from St. James. The school merged with St. ItaSt. GabrielSt. Patrick on the southeast side, and some female students from St. Elizabeth to form Mercy High School.


Year opened:                 1890

Year boys admitted:       1902

Became 4-yr school:      1906

Year closed:                  1924


to let us know more about the history of St. James High School in Chicago. Items that we are looking for are facts about the school, memories from former students, mementos (such as graduation programs, newspaper accounts, etc.), photos, and more. Please send your information to us at or thru the USPS at our address:

Illinois High School Glory Days

6439 North Neva

Chicago, IL  60631

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