Galesburg St. Joseph Academy H.S.

Galesburg St. Joseph Academy High School Building
A picture containing tree, outdoor, place of worship, old

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The History of Galesburg St. Joseph Academy

Galesburg is an important railroad navagation point along the BN&SF railway and is also the birthplace of Carl Sandburg, a site of a Lincoln-Douglas Debate, and a temporary home for future President Ronald Reagan. Galesburg lies about 40 miles south of the Quad City Area and 40 miles west of Peoria on Interstate 74 and US 150.

Galesburg was one of the first cities in Illinois to support a public high school and a private high school: St. Joseph Academy, pictured above, was founded in 1879 opposite Galesburg High School, which was founded in 1863. The Corpus Christi Church was built in 1885 through the efforts of Father Joseph Costa, who founded the Academy. The Corpus Christi Lyceum was built in 1895. The Corpus Christi School was a boys school and St. Joseph Academy was for girls.

St. Joseph Academy High School and Corpus Chrisit Lyceum High School continued to serve the Catholic community for 66 years in this capacity. In 1945 it was decided to merge the two into one co-ed high school. The newly developed high school was named Corpus Christi High School. In 1964 a new building for the high school was constructed. The new facility caused the name to be changed to Costa High School, in honor of Father Joseph Costa.

The original St. Joseph Academy building served as a grade school building until a new building was erected in 1957. The St. Joseph Academy High School building was razed in 1972. .

St. Joseph Academy Quick Facts:

Year Opened:                                                 1879 (Girls)

Founder:                                                          Father Joseph Costa, I.C.

Religion:                                                          Catholic, Corpus Christi Parish

Year Consolidated with Corpus Christi:   1945 (became an elementary school 1 – 8)

Year all School Functions Ceased:           1972?

Building Status:                                             Torn down late 1970s?

(Sports not offered to girls when St. Joseph was an all-girls high school.)

St. Joseph Grade School Quick Facts

St. Joseph Grade School Nickname:        “Hilltoppers” (1945 – 1960)

“Royals” (1960-?)

St. Joseph Grade School Team Colors:    Red & White

St. Joseph Grade School Fight Song:       “Red & White Let’s Go!”

Courtesy of Deb Worden

Red & white come on let’s go,

We’re gonna fight right thru the foe,

Shouting our battle cry,

Whether we do or die,

Side-by-side along we’ll go


We will win the victory,

If you will fight, fight, fight, straight thru,

We’ll lead you on with cheers of loyalty,

Come on and fight,

We’re right, with you!

St. Joseph Academy High School Extra-Curricular Activities

It is likely many activities were offered and available for the St. Joseph Academy girls. Choir, Band, FHA, student body government, plays, dances, and many other activites were probably a very important part of the SJA experience.

Memories of St. Joseph Academy Grade School

**From Deb Worden:

“I attended St. Joseph’s Academy (grade school) in Galesburg, Il., 1st thru 8th grade.  The years I attended “St. Joe’s” was from 1961-1969.

Prior to my being a student at St. Joseph’s Academy our school nickname was first:  the St. Joseph Academy “Hill Toppers”, because, as you can see, St. Joseph’s Academy was literally located on top of a hill.  When I began attending “St. Joe’s” our nickname was changed to the St. Joseph Academy “Royals”.  Our school colors were Red & White.  I remember the school song (see above).” At 58 I thankfully can still remember the lyrics!”

If You Have ANY Further Information..

…regarding Galesburg St. Joseph Academy High School for Girls, you can write to us at or via USPS at the following address:

IHSGD Website

6439 N. Neva Ave.

Chicago, IL.  60631

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