Crystal Lake St. Mary Minor Seminary “Eagles”

St. Mary Minor Seminary Building
A large building with trees in front of it

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Courtesy of Diana Kenney & The Crystal Lake Historical Society (

The History of St. Mary Minor Seminary; Crystal Lake, Illinois

Crystal Lake (population 38,000) is located in far northeastern Illinois in the southeastern portion of McHenry County. It is close enough to the city of Chicago to be considered a northwestern suburb, though it is about 40 miles from the downtown area of the “Windy City”. U.S. Route 14 and Illinois Routes 31 and 176 will take you to Crystal Lake.  The Chicago and Northwestern Railroad travels through Crystal Lake as well.

An excellent short history of the town of Crystal Lake is located at the Wikipedia web address of,_Illinois .  The area in which the town is located was first settled in the mid 1830s. The water in a lake in the area had water described as being “clear as crystal”, hence the name of the town was established as Crystal Lake. The town of Crystal Lake was incorporated in 1874. A town just north of Crystal Lake was named Dearborn.  The name of this town was changed to Nunda and also incorportated in 1874.  It was in 1914 that the town of Nunda, which became known as North Crystal Lake in 1908, was annexed by the city of Crystal Lake.

We believe the following to be a fairly accurate history of the school known as St. Mary’s Minor Seminary High School. On September 3rd, 1945, Father Sigmund, OFM (1st Superior) created the St. Mary Minor Seminary in Crystal Lake exclusively for boys.  According to the web address of St. Mary Minor Seminary was established for high school boys who wished to study for the priesthood. The school had an enrollment of about 100 students with 75 percent of whom lived on campus.

In the Seminary’s first year (1945), there were 13 freshman and five sophomores. The junior and senior grades were added at a later date. The Seminary lasted for 24 years, as it closed in 1969.

The location of St. Mary Minor Seminary is on Country Club Road, and is now the location of the present Lakeside Legacy Foundation property. Plans are being made to completely restore the Dole Mansion, which served as the St. Mary Minor Seminary High School building during its 24 years of existence.

An excellent website full of history regarding the town of Crystal Lake can be viewed at the web address of .  The site is maintained by the Crystal Lake Historical Society. The president of the Historical Society, Diana Kenney, is a supporter of the Glory Days website and provided the photo of the St. Mary Seminary building displayed at the top of this page.

St. Mary’s Seminary “Quick Facts”:

Year opened:                  1945

Year closed:                   1969

School Team Nickname:  the “Eagles”

Team Uniform Colors:      Blue & Gold

School Fight Song:          unavailable


St. Mary’s Seminary competed in football for sure. St. Mary’s alum Brian Regan tells us the school did not offer basketball or any other sport during his time there.  The school did not have a gymnasium.  A hockey rink was formed in the winter months that allowed the boys to gain their exercise in the cold months. There was also a basketball hoop erected in the outdoor yard that was the site of many ‘pick-up” games.

Regarding the football program, we are searching for information such as fight song, coach’s names, season records, and individual accomplishments.  Any information you have to share regarding St. Mary’s Minor Seminary High School is welcome.


Brian Regan provided the following information and memories regarding the Eagle football program:

“I have several newspaper articles from Crystal Lake which listed the football coaches from St. Mary’s for the 1956 season.  Joe Porkorny was the head coach and John Kirchberg was an assistant coach.  There was one other assistant coach named “Doc“, unfortunately I can not remember his name (possibly Father Norbert).  Joe was from Cary.  I remember that he had the unfortunate experience of having his new-born baby die.  This may have 1956 or 1957, and I remember the entire team going to the funeral home in Cary, Illinois.  John Kirchberg, I believe played at the University of Illinois and had a brother who also played at Illinois.”

1956             Coach Joe Porkorny


**From Dr. William Celentano (Class of 1969):

“I just took a stroll down the lane of memories on your website. I attended St. Mary’s from September 1965 until graduation in June of 1969. I thoroughly loved my stay there and feel quite blessed to have been afforded such a wonderful opportunity and education as was provided. Although I did not progress further on the path of priesthood, I have felt the lessons and guidance instilled in me a source of ongoing strength and focus.”

**From Frank Cherney:

“I attended St. Mary’s for my Freshman and Sophomore year.  I had an old suitcase in my basement that had not been opened in close to 60 years and this morning I opened it for the first time and found a whole bunch of my old letters and yearbook stored from my St. Mary’s days.

I have not looked at your site thoroughly but you mentioned ‘doc’ and a St. Mary’s song.  As far as I remember ‘doc’ was Father Norbert and although I do not remember an official school song or football or sports team song I do remember and smile often as I sing a little ditty to myself as taught to me by Stanley Kowalski I believe.  The song goes like this:

Give a cheer, give a cheer,

For the boys who drink the beer

In the cellars of St. Mary’s High

We are brave, we are bold

For the beer that we can hold

Is a story that’s never been told

For it’s guzzle, guzzle, guzzle

As the beer goes down the muzzle

And the cheer always comes out loud and clear

More Beer!

If Father Simon comes in here

We’ll say ‘Father have a beer’

In the cellars of St. Mary’s High”

Seeking More Information

More information is being sought about the St. Mary Minor Seminary. If you have any information about the Seminary, including photos of the school and memories you would like to share, please use the Guest Commentary Form.  You may also write us via e-mail at or via “real” mail at:

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

Provided by the Crystal Lake Historical Society
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Provided by the Crystal Lake Historical Society
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  1. I attended 1959^1960. I remember the dinner plates and utensils were engraved, CLCC for Crystal Lake Country Club

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