Evanston Marywood High School

Evanston Marywood High School
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courtesy of http://www.friendsoftheciviccenter.org

                         The History of Evanston Marywood High School

Evanston (population: 74,200) is located north of Chicago along the shores of Lake Michigan, and is home of Northwestern University. The community can be reached by taking US 41, Illinois 58, and by taking the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad.

First known as Grosse Pointe Territory at its founding in 1836, the name changed to Ridgeville in 1850, then Evanston in 1863 in honor of John Evans, the founder of Northwestern University. The city became incorporated in 1872 and is considered both a city and township.

Evanston also is known as the birthplace of the toy Tinkertoys, serves as the headquarters for the Alpha Phi International women’s sorority, along with the Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Sigma Chi fraternities, Rotary International, the Womans’ Christian Temperance Union and the National Lekotek Center. It is believed that Evanston was also the birthplace of the ice cream sundae, although two other cities have also laid claims to this fact.

Marywood High School (aka Marywood Academy) was opened in 1915 by the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods after they took over Visitation Academy from the Sisters of the Visitation due to that order being supressed by the Archbishop of Chicago, James Quigley, due to irregularities and internal dissention among the Visitadines. The four-story school building was already in place at the corner of Ridge and Simpson, built in 1901 in a Georgian Revivial style at a cost of $40,000.00 by noted architect Henry Schlacks, who had built many Catholic churches and schools in the Chicagoland area by using the Gothic design.

The school accepted day and boarding students for a grade and high school setting, having both boys and girls at the grade school level and only girls at the high school. Boys were admitted until 1933 when the grade school went girls’ only after that, and then it was closed in the spring of 1947.

Marywood added onto the existing building with a gymnasium that included a pool in 1922 and added another four-story wing in 1925 at a cost of $250,000.00 that housed classrooms, a cafeteria, dining rooms, music studios, and dormitories. During the time that Marywood was open, a special emphasis was placed on college prep courses, and it showed as more than 80 percent of its students went onto college.

The school’s enrollment peaked at 531 in 1964-65, but within five years, the Providence nuns were petitioning Cardinal John Cody of the Archdiocese of Chicago to close the school after a total of just 50 eighth graders showed interest in enrolling as freshmen in the fall of 1970. Even though the Cardinal was against the sudden decision to close the school and wanted it to stay open for those underclassmen who wished to graduate, the Providence order did not budge from their stance, closing the school following the final graduation of 110 students in the spring of 1970.

The nuns stated that the reasons they closed the school were because of declining enrollment, a shortage of religious teaching personnel, and inadequate revenues. The Marywood building remains standing today as home of the governmental offices and civic center for the city of Evanston, although the community has been planning to build a new facility due to the deteriorating condition of the building, which gained National Landmark Status in 2006.

Updated look at Marywood tower
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Courtesy of Barbara Hofstetter
Closeup on tower
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Courtesy of Barbara Hofstetter

Year opened as Visitation Academy:    1897

New building opened:                           1901

Year of order and name changes:        1915

Year closed:                                          1970

Used today as:                                      Evanston Civic Center

School colors:                                       Green & White

School nickname:                                  unknown

School song:                                         “Marywood School Song”

words by Clare Burns and music by Ruth Goll

(both Marywood alumna from the class of 1922)

There are schools in many countries that are famous and renow’d

But in all the world, no greater one than Marywood is found

Then all hail! to Alma Mater, sing her praises, students all

Other schools there maybe good, there is none like Marywood

She’s the best, the only school, the school for us.

Marywood, O Marywood, we’re singing

Of our loyal love and true

Marywood, Marywood, we will let the world know you

Proud of you and true to you we’re dreaming

Of the time when we’ll depart

Tho’ from you we service, we will love you ever

Marywood, dear Marywood, our school


We do know that Marywood offered basketball at one time, but do not have any record of other extracurricular activities that the Marywood students may have participated, but most people would believe that those young ladies had many avenues to show off their talents, whether it be in choir, drama, band, GAA, or other school organizations. We are in need of more details in this area.


Marywood competed in the Catholic High School Girls’ Basketball League from 1927-31, according to Robert Pruter. Along with the likes of AlverniaAquinasLongwoodLoretto HighLoretto AcademyMercySt. Catherine (later known as Siena)St. Mary, St. ScholasticaSt. XavierVisitationand Wilmette Mallinckrodt, these schools played each other until the Catholic Youth Organization formed its own girls’ league in 1932.


from Barbara Hofstetter:

“I recently attended a 40th class reunion for the class of 1971…the class that never graduated. When Googleing Marywood, I came across the site. I was a Junior when the Sisters of Providence announced that they were closing the school. I have never forgotten how sad that day was. We were all called into the Gymnasium for a school assembly and the Principal of the school announced that Marywood would be closing at the end of the school year. Yes, and the reason was for lack of enrollment. There were two new high schools in the area: Regina Dominican and Marillac High School in Glenview. These two schools were mainly responsible for the demise of Marywood.

If you need more info about Marywood, I would be happy to oblige.”

from Mary Cay (class of 1968):

“We just got out in time before they closed. We had an unbelievable time at Marywood. They were known for their swim club. It was synchronized swimming and we had a beautiful swim show every year with music, costumes and such talent. I should know…I was president of the club my senior year.

“The basketball team was always great! We had tournaments with other girls schools and usually won! Although our big rival was Alvernia. There are still quite a few friends that we keep in contact with and the reunions are always something to look forward too. Most of my friends went to college after Marywood and finished. They prepared us very well.

“Just thought I would send a lil’ info. Our motto was (are you ready?) “Do as Mary wood!””

from Elizabeth Burger (class of 1960):

“I am so happy to find Marywood online and maybe get some more information. I graduated in 1960 and I LOVED going to school there. Such happy days and I boarded.

“My mom threw all my yearbooks away so no last names in my brain anymore. I want to connect with my old classmates. I did the swimming ballet, love the huge art room, played tricks on the sisters who guarded us at night. What fun we had!

“So cool to see the old building and tower. Was the art room in the tower? I went to mass every day…omg.. and practiced piano like the devil.”

from Victoria Martinez (last freshmen class in 1969-70):

“Hi. I was a freshman when Marywood closed in 1970. I so loved coming to this school every morning from Chicago. I was on the swim team, and basketball team. I also remember playing Joseph that year in a school play.

“I remember that light blue uniform that I used to roll up all the time with our white blouses and blue jacket. I so loved coming to this school every morning from Chicago. I met so many great girls and teachers there. I always remember it being so cool to be in a school with all girls.

“There was such a closeness amongst each other. I also remember that dreaded day they called us all to the gym to tell us this would be the last year for Marywood. We were all crying that we would not be together anymore.

“Most of my friends went to Scholastica or Regina but I got stuck at Sullivan High School in the city. That’s when my life went down a different path for many years. I always tell everyone if it wasn’t for my eight years in a Catholic grammar school and my Freshman year in a Catholic H.S., I would have not learned anything.

“That year at Marywood was one of the best years of my life. My mom lost all my yearbooks, so if there is anyone who knows how I can get another book, it would be greatly appreciated.”

from Moira Heffron (daughter of Marywood alumnae Maryruth Stephan, dated 8/31/2021):

“My mom graduated from Marywood in 1928. A field day from 1927 shows a track meet and awards for varsity basketball and champion basketball team, as well as for volleyball, baseball, and swimming (the top award went to her friend, Joyce Raiche).

“There were also individual and group music performances as shown in a recital program with orchestra as well as solo instruments; violins, pianos, harps, and voice chorus performed at their commencement. I hope this adds to your information on activities pursued by Marywood students.”


then we invite you to contact us. We can be reached by emailing us at dr.veeman@gmail.com or by writing to us at the following address. Items such as memories, types of activities, school colors, school song, etc. are helpful to us.

IHSGD Website

6439 North Neva

Chicago, IL  60631

Marywood classmates at 40th class reunion
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Courtesy of Barbara Hofstetter

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