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 cultural, economic, and financial capital of the Midwest” (according to Wikipedia).
St. Michael’s Central High School, located in the Old Town section of Chicago at North and Hudson Avenues (near Wells Street), was opened as a two-year, co-institutional parish school with a commercial program in 1887. Instead of being a co-educational school (with boys and girls attending classes together), each gender was educated at separate ends of the building. The boys were under the direction of the Brothers of Mary, and the girls were taught by the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
The educational focus changed from commercial to academic in 1923, by which time there were four years of classes for boys (which started in 1919), and the girls section became four years in 1924. A new building was also opened in 1928, which coincided with the designation of being a central high school for Catholic students on the north side of the Chicago River, just west of Lincoln Park.
St. Michael Central’s enrollment was steady during the 1950’s and 1960’s, reaching 754 in 1967, but it dwindled to 575 by 1973, which may have the reason that the school became co-ed in the fall of 1976. It was not enough to save the school, due to the increasing operating expenses that mounted and the deteriorating condition of the building, and St. Michael Central closed its doors in the spring of 1978 after having 468 students attend class there.
The school gym was torn down some time later, but the majority of the school was renovated and became the home of luxury condominiums inside the Old Town Triangle, which has received both city and National Landmark Status. There is a street just west of Hudson and north of North Avenue that is called St. Michaels Court that pays tribute to the fact that the school existed nearby.
A more extensive history of the St. Michael’s school was sent to us by Paul Rung:
“St Michael Central High School, 1640 – 48 North Hudson, was associated with St. Michael’s Church http://www.st-mikes.org/, 1633 N. Cleveland St., Chicago IL 60614. The church was built in 1866-69, burned in the Chicago Fire, and rebuilt in 1872-73. The Redemptorists Fathers operate the church.
Catholic schools were very important to Chicago because they were usually staffed by teaching orders with national and international associations. The School Sisters of Notre Dame arrived at St. Michael’s in 1862 and the Brothers of Mary (Society of Mary) in 1874 to work in the church and schools. The Society of Mary in the 50’s had two US provinces with 953 brothers\priest teaching 21,557 students.
The high school began as a 2-year commercial school but expanded to a general four-year high school in 1923 with approximately 60 students. A new school was built in 1928 to accommodate around 800 students. The building was three stories high, 340 x 123 feet with 47 rooms including 31 class rooms, offices, science labs, band room, cafeteria, a four-lane bowling alley and a gym with seating for 600. The cost when built was ½ million dollars. In 1959, the school enrollment of 709 students was probably average and the graduation rate ranged between 141 and 179 between 1953-59.
The North half of the school was for the girls and the South half for the boys. The band, cafeteria, science labs, gym and bowling alley were used by both boys and girls, usually at different times. Even the start/finish times were different for the two groups.
The two groups first combined in band in 1933, the senior play in 1927, the school Operetta in 1953. The two groups worked with parallel staffs on the school newspaper, the Central News. There was no yearbook but the May edition of the newspaper covered graduation and four years of the paper were bound together and given to seniors.
This was a Catholic school, the girls wore uniforms and the boys slacks and a shirts with collars. Students took religious classes, attended annual retreats and were encouraged to attend mass and join religious sodalities.
Academically, the school offered general (college) and commercial tracks. Activities included – bowling, glee club/choral, band for both sides. The boys side offered camera club, baseball, softball, basketball and several other sports intermittently. The school belonged to the Parish League and the varsity teams were named the Warriors and the junior teams the Ponies/Lights. The school colors were blue and gold.
The girls had cheerleading, swimming, horse back riding.”
It has been reported that an annual alumni gathering takes place for St. Michael’s takes place around the first or second Sunday in October to reminisce and pay tribute to their alma mater.
For more information on St. Michael Central High School check out www.friendsofstmichaels.ning.com, a website created by Lisa Booker, dedicated to the memory of St. Michael Central High School!
FACTS ABOUT CHICAGO ST. MICHAEL CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL
Year opened: 1887
Offered 4-yr course to boys: 1919
Switched focus to academic courses: 1923
Offered 4-yr course to girls: 1924
Opened new building: 1928
Year school went to co-ed: 1976
Year closed: 1978
School colors: Blue & Gold
School nickname: Warriors
School newspaper: Central News
School song: “St. Michael’s High”
Submitted by Margaret Hemma, Class of 1968
Written by Sister Mary Gordon
To St. Michael’s High we’re loyal and true
Ready the cheer the gold and the blue
Just give us a job and we’ll see it through
Victory, St. Michael’s High!
Side by side we’re marching to win
Strong, united now let’s begin
No matter the foe, we’ll never give in
Victory, St. Michael’s High!
Coach Jim Roberts led Warrior boys basketball program in the middle 1970s. The boys of this era were one of the best in Illinois’ Class ‘A’ basketball. Coach Roberts has supplied us with information on this and photos of teams from 1977 which include boys soccer, girls volleyball, and cheerleading. We are searching for season records of these and other St. Michael Central teams.
The hey-day of St. Michael basketball was between the 1973-74 through the 1976-77 seasons coached by Jim Roberts. The Warriors won the Independent League championship in both the 75-76 and 76-77 seasons. Jasper McElroy was a first team All-Stater in 76-77 and third team Catholic All-American. John Owens played in the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association All-Star Game in 1977. Coach Jim Roberts was the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year for District IV (Chicago) all four seasons.
If you have any further information regarding the St. Michael basketball program, please forward it to us.
1973-74 17 – 7 Coach Jim Roberts
St. Michael Senior Leaders 1973-74
(front to back) Gerald Dunn, Monroe Holcomb, and Ernie Taylor
1974-75 19 – 5 Coach Jim Roberts
Team members as viewed in the photo below to the left include:
Front row: Tony Smith, Ken Meaders, David Wekerle, Darnell O’Neal, Derrick Gavin
Back row: Keith Pearson, Greg Stingley, Randy Holcomb, John Owens, Earl Dunn, Dale Porter
The Final Game of 1974-75
Submitted by Coach Jim Roberts
St. Michaels HS Basketball 1974-75
Submitted by Coach Jim Roberts
1975-76 23 – 3 Independent League Champions Coach Jim Roberts
Members of this team shown in the photo of the award winners below include:
L to R : Coach Roberts, Randy Holcomb, Keith Pearson, Greg Stingley, Darnell O’Neal, Dale Porter, and Brother Ed Johnson the Principal
# 52 Keith Pearson 75-76 All Conference, Ave 18.5 PPG and 21.3 RPG
# 54 Dale Porter 75-76 All-Conference team
Basketball Award Winners from 1975-76
Submitted by Jim Roberts
1977 Class A Rankings (end of regular season)
courtesy of Jim Roberts
1976-77 25 – 2 Independent League Champions Coach Jim Roberts
During the final two years of operation, this writer remembers St. Michael having an excellent boys’ basketball program, finishing at the top of the state’s Associated Press Class A poll with a mark of 23-1 in 1977, however losing in the regional finals to Walther Lutheran in a bizarre manner to finish the season. Led by all-stater Jasper McElroy (who would later play at Western Michigan and professionally in Ireland), St. Michael’s was involved in a regional championship game that was so controversial that the second half of the game was ordered to be replayed in order to send the winner to the Somonauk Class A Sectional.
The names of the members of the team that won that Havana Tournament that is pictured below to the left are as follows:
Row 1: Rodger Crawford, Earl Dunn, DeReginald Cain, John Owens
Row 2: Ray Villarubia,Vernon Canon
Row 3: George Reese, Martel McCoy, Jasper McElroy, Derrick Thomas,
Ken Williams, Maryellen Roberts, Coach Jim Roberts
(#12 Earl Dunn 75-76 and 76-77 All-Conference)
Coach Roberts with St. Michael’s Alumni Players
Darnell O’Neal, Dale Porter, Coach Roberts, Earl Dunn, John Owens. Photo Taken in 2009
Team of 1976-77 – Havana HS Tourney Champs
Ranked #1 in IHSA Class ‘A’ Basketball (left click on photo for enlarged version)
St. Michael Fresh-Soph Basketball Team 1976-77
Left Click on Photo for Enlarged Version
The Lady Warriors competed in volleyball. This photo is of the school’s final team, the 1976-77 netters. If you have any further information regarding this program, please send it to us.
Lady Warrior Voleyball Team of 1976-77
Submitted by Jim Roberts
The boys also competed in soccer. Any information regarding this sport in the history of St. Michaels is welcome.
Warrior Soccer Team – 1976-77
Submitted by Jim Roberts
While it was open, St. Michael’s Central offered activities to its students in order to serve their needs in reaching their potential as students. We do know that they offered rowing as well as boys’ basketball, but the IHSA website shows that the school did not win any hardware while it was a member of the IHSA.
IHSA Historian Robert Pruter wrote an article on the history of rowing in Illinois and noted that St. Michael had an team that competed for the city title several times in the late-1940’s and winning the Senior Eights title in 1948. The school later dropped the sport by 1960. More about rowing can be found at: http://www.ihsa.org/initiatives/hstoric/rowing.htm.
St. Michaels Pom Pon Squad 1976-77
Left Click on Photo for Enlarged Version
St. Michael Cheerleaders 1976-77
Left Click on Photo for Enlarged View
Chicago St. michael’s Spirit of ’72 Monogram
Submitted by Keith
I graduated from St. Mike’s in 1972. Our coach from 1968-1972 was Mr. Fred O’Connor. Mr. O’Connor also taught health on the boy’s side. Thank you.
From Mike Skowronski:
I am a St. Michael Central High School Graduate of 1973 and stumbled upon
your site last night…..and had a blast for a couple of hours of great
fun reading various things on your site. Thanks for that!
I’ve got a bunch of stuff that you can hopefully scan.
1972….1973……and then after graduation I helped out coaching the
basketball teams for a few years while in college….assisting Jim Roberts during those couple of years that he had some great teams. I was excited to see a few
things that Jim shared on the website….some pics that even I never saw.
Was wondering….do you have a contact for Jim? Haven’t seem him since
maybe 1979 or so when he was the head coach at Centralia High and would
like to get in touch with him.
Seeking a Photo of St. Michael’s Central High School
From Glenn Shipley:
I am a 1956 graduate of St. Michael CHS and I am looking for a photograph of the school building from the outside from around that time. Would you have one or do you know where I might find one? Thanks! If you do have one, please contact the Glory Days staff and we will pass this information on to Glenn.
From Jim McCoy (class of 1966)…
“My name is Jim McCoy. I was just looking at your website. I don’t even know what made me do a search today. But, boy am I glad I did.
“I attended St. Michael Central High School from 1962-1966. I played on the St. Michael Warriors in all four years I attended. In 1965, we had a team that was undefeated in the Parish League all the way to the last game of the season. Unfortunately, we then lost to St. Benedict High School of the Parish League on the last day of the regular season. If I remember correctly, we lost that game by only one or two points.
“We then had to play them again for the Parish League championship. I don’t know what the boys at St. Benedict’s were eating the week before the game. But, when they hit the floor, they were a totally different team. So were we, but not in a good way. Benedict’s trounced us in the final game. I think they ended up beating us by 30 points That is not a good memory. But, the season we had was a tremendous one.
“I was a co-captain on the 1965 team. We had a captain for each the Juniors and the Seniors. I’ll never forget the pre-season game we played against what was known as Waller High in those days (Lincoln Park High now). Coach kept our two big guys in the locker room during warm-ups. While we were doing our lay-ups, I was standing at center court in our gym with one of the players from Waller. He was looking at our squad and said to me that he couldn’t believe that with the short team we had, that we were undefeated.
“Then Ken Ciuckowski (spelling ?) and Frank Keller emerged from the locker room. Kenny was 6′ 5 and Frank was 6’4. That was mighty tall for those days. Not only were they tall, but they were great ball players. So was our point guard, Bill Considine. We went on to beat Waller by around 20 points. We were also undefeated for all of the pre-season games.
“The only other game we lost before the St. Benedict losses was in the championship game of the Christmas Tournament which was held at Roosevelt that year. We beat St. Benedict in the semis and then lost to Mount Carmel of the Catholic League in the finals. Mount Carmel went on to win the city championship that year. During the pre-season, we also defeated the likes of Gordon Tech, DePaul, Lane Tech and Hales Franciscan.
“Our graduating class consisted of only around 85 or so combined boys and girls. As an aside note, many of those boys and girls ended up married to one another. Some are still married, most are not. The Principal was Brother Dunne and the basketball coach was Brother A. J. Brother A.J. had also coached at Collinsville earlier in his coaching career. The only teachers I can remember were Mr. Bill White (English), Mr. Norris (Chemistry) and Father Sheridan (Religion).”
**From Terry Schaub:
“Hello, I live in St Louis, MO. I am trying to help a friend of mine locate JEFFREY SCHRANK English teacher circa 1966-1971 (who went to college with Terry’s friend). I saw an item on the internet that a Lisa Booker connected with some type of annual reunion, but reunion web under construction..(the Illinois High School Glory Days site) also listed on school writeup, not sure how you could help me but I seek your input. I wonder if any yearbooks might show his middle initial or if he attended any reunion in recent history.”
From Jim Esposito (Post) (class of 1961)
“I graduated from St. Mike’s in 1961. Not a super lot to share at the moment except your readers might enjoy knowing that Dennis Farina, the film star and dear friend of mine, graduated in 1962. He went on to the Chicago Police Department and then on to a long and prosperous film acting career. He passed away (in August 2013) at the age of 69. He is missed by all who knew him.
PS: Brother Sohm was principal during my tenure. I’ll never forget him.
From Luciano Miceli:
“My name is Lucio Miceli. I came from Italy (and) lived at boys’ home Mission of Lady of Mercy (at) 1140 W. Jackson. I attended St. Michael 1969 to May 1972. I could say I do remember Coach Connor, “the Duke,” Brother Johnson, and McFeely Otto.
“Anyway, I remember going with school trip (in) the month of May 1972, we went to San Antonio, Texas. (It was) a long bus drive where I got in trouble, and then I did not get my diploma because I left the Home Mission of Lady of Mercy an all-boys’ home for trouble boys (accept me, I was an angel). Anyway, should someone remember an Italian boy who hardly spoke English to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, any pictures would help.”
from Joe Fijak:
“I can tell you that I had a very positive experience in school. I had been raised in an orphanage in north Chicago. While there I developed some skill in music and basketball.
“One day during school, an announcement was made that anybody with interest or desire to join the band should report to the music room after school. Being that my circumstances did not afford ownership of my own trumpet I reported with skepticism. Mr. Otto Krueger, music instructor, greeted me and after exchange of info he realized my plight but recognized my desire. He handed me a case in which there was his personal trumpet. After handing me the sheet music to “Mona Lisa”, popular song at the time by Nat King Cole, he asked me to play it. About half way through he stopped me with a statement declaring that his trumpet was mine to take care of and use as long as I was a member of the St. Michael music program.
“I’m telling you this in case you give credit or recognition to good people like Mr. Krueger. I was a little guy and as participants in the Parish League, there were 2 classifications of basketball teams, 5’6″ and under as well as 5’6″ and over. I participated that year as a member of the under team. I wish I could remember the name of our coach. He was one of the teaching brothers and was also my Latin teacher. I have fond memories of him amongst others.”
from Joyce (Rung) Donnini (class of 1963):
“My name is Joyce Donnini. It was Joyce Rung in those days in grade school and high school at Saint Michael’s. I met some of the nicest people you would ever want to meet there. I do remember a great deal about how we all went through school together. I am on one of those new fangled I-pad things and it is hard to write. I did want to write a little bit after seeing my friends and class mates. All the best to you all.”
from Marcy Cowan (class of 1963):
“I was pleased to find on the web information about my High School that I attended 1959-63. I loved this school and all the teaching, fun activities that I was able to participate in and making so many friends that I have (of course) lost contact.
“Born and raised in the Mother Cabrini-original government living, 2-story homes was my upbringing with a mix of immigrants from everywhere. I participated in the Glee Club, bowling, horseback riding and later became a cheerleader in my Junior/Senior years. That was the peak of my high school days.
“I hope that I can be put on the reunion list and to sometime reunite with the class of 1962-63.”
Marcy Cowan (class of 1963, in middle)
courtesy of Marcy Cown
St. Michael’s cheerleaders (1962-63)
courtesy of Marcy Cowan (second from left in front row)
WE’RE LOOKING FOR MORE INFORMATION…
about the history of St. Michael’s Central High School in Chicago. Sports information (win-loss records, coaches’ names, all-staters), additional photos of the school or activities would be great. Memories are also welcome! Just contact us: