Chicago St. Patrick High School for Girls (West Side)

The History of Chicago St. Patrick High School for Girls/West Side

(NOTE: Not to be confused with St. Patrick High School for Girls/Southeast Side)

St. Pats Class of Approx. 1934
Submitted by Wayne LeBlanc (Sister Catherine Chernick is in this photo)

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. Patrick High School for Girls was opened in 1871 in Old St. Patrick Parish on Des Plaines Street on the West Side of the city. The Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul were the ones who saw to it that the doors were opened on September 8th of that year, a month before the Great Chicago Fire. The school was partnered with a boys’ academy of the same name, run by the Christian Brothers.

In 1900, the school was closed due to economic and social changes, but three years later, it reopened by offering a two-year commercial department. It would not be until 1928 when the course of study expanded to four years.

As the post-World War II building and travelling boom continued, there were changes made to the campus. The Northwest Expressway (now known as the Kennedy, or Interstate 90) cut thru the campus and claimed the girls’ building along with the grade school and convent that the sisters lived in during the early 1950’s. However, Samuel Cardinal Stritch asked that a new school be built for the boys on the city’s Northwest Side, then the girls could occupy their former location after that.

A new convent was also built along with a grade school, and the St. Patrick girls were able to relocate into the boys’ old building (after attending classes at St. Mel High School in split shifts) in 1954. The enrollment during the ’50’s was in the middle 300’s with a peak of 391 during the 1961-62 school year. St. Patrick’s girls moved again in 1967 following the closing of the grade school. It was spacious enough to add biology and chemistry labs, as well as a library and business department.

Unfortunately, the school faced many issues, including neighborhood changes. It was becoming more inner-city and very close to being completely industrialized by 1970. After having 240 students enrolled in the fall of 1969, it was decided to close St. Patrick’s for Girls and allow other schools (albeit larger) to educate those students with a wide variety of classes and programs that were not available at St. Patrick’s.

With Archdiocesan approval, on recommendation of the council of Sisters who oversaw the school, St. Patrick’s High School for Girls graduated its final class in the spring of 1970. The remaining students were assisted by the faculty in making a choice with regard to their transfer to another school.


Year originally opened:                     1871

Year first closed:                               1900

Reopened as two-yr comm. school: 1903

Expanded to four years:                   1928

Year closed for good:                       1970

School colors:                                   unknown

School nickname:                             unknown

School song:                                     unknown


We are not aware if there were any athletics or any other extra-curricular activities at the school. Given that it closed in 1970, it could not have been involved in girls’ interscholastic sporting events versus other schools because it was before the IHSA was holding state tournaments (the first one was around 1972). However, they may have competed in postal tournaments such as basketball, archery, swimming, or bowling, but St. Patrick’s girls did not place in the top three in order to be listed on the IHSA’s website (www.ihsa,org).

In lieu of sports, the girls may have had GAA along with band, chorus, and various clubs to occupy their time and fill the need to keep active while attending the school. We are hoping that an alum or friend of the school will contact us with more details about student life at St. Patrick’s High School for Girls on the West Side.

Intramural Champions of 1933
A group of people posing for a photo

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Article Describing Intramural Basketball Tourney
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Submitted by Wayne LeBlanc


**From Lititia Stahnke:

“My mother Marie Ruess graduated from St. Patrick in 1917. I also attended St. Patrick enrolling in 1943. The school at that time housed grades 1 through 4th year of high school. It was razed due to the building of the highway through that area. There is mention of a convent being built there in the 1800s.This school was run by the Sisters of Mercy. They fed the homeless that filled was called “Skid Row” at that time. The boys’ school was a newer building on Des Plaines just north of the church. Business people waited for the graduates of St. Patrick Academy to hire them for their secretaries.”

from Jeanne Kilmer Stibolt (class of 1944):

“I graduated from St. Patrick’s in 1944, run by the Sisters of Charity with their sailboat habits…how great they were. I did take chemistry back then and also took the streetcar to and from school. My senior year, my folks moved back to the farm (war time), so I lived with the nuns.”Archbishop Stritch passed out our diplomas at our graduation we had with the boys’ school (Brother Matthew in charge of the boys, we had Sister Beatrice).

“From there, I went to St. Joseph Hospital at 2100 North Burling in Chicago, run by the same nuns, to be an x-ray technician. My teacher was Rose McGarrigle (who is pictured in the basketball photo above). Several years ago, my granddaughter, daughter, and I went to Midnight Mass at Old St. Patrick’s Church.

“Isn’t life great? Such wonderful memories. No more navy blue uniforms with green collars and cuff, that we couldn’t wait to out of for the summer. Ah, yesteryear!”

from Celeste Duran Guererro (class of 1970, dated 3/23/2019):

“I graduated from St. Pat’s in 1970. I had four years of wonderful memories. I tried to visit the school about ten years ago, but they would not allow me to enter the building.

“There is a portion of the original school still standing and that is the part I wanted to see. I explained that I graduated from there, but it didn’t matter.

“Anyway, I graduated with a bunch of wonderful ladies, and till this day, I am still in contact with quite a few of them. So grateful that I decided to go to St. Pat’s instead of St. Mary’s. I would love to see the building, and will keep trying.”


the better we can tell the story of St. Patrick’s High School for Girls in Chicago. Please email your information to or send it to:


6439 North Neva

Chicago, IL  60631

St. Pats Graduates of 1934 (Approximately)
A group of people posing for a photo

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Courtesy of Wayne LeBlanc

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