Hillside Mater Dolorosa Seminary

Mater Dolorosa Seminary
A large building with a lawn in front of it

Description automatically generated with medium confidence
Credit: Lake County Discovery Museum/Curt Teich Postcard Archives

                          The History of Hillside Mater Dolorosa Seminary

Hillside (population: 8,155) is located in western Cook County, about 10 miles west of downtown Chicago, The community is known for being the hub of several expressways that serve the region. Interstate 290 cuts through the village from east to west, as Interstate 294 meets up with I-290 near the village’s northwest boundary. Not only does the expressway sysem divides the community, but has also been a contributor to its development, as were the rail systems in Hillside’s early years.

The first settlers put down stakes in the 1840’s, establishing farms and as well as a church and school at the intersection of what is now Wolf and 22nd Street. This item about the village of HIllside states that “…even though most of Hillside’s later development was north of 12th Street, Immanuel Lutheran Church and School were included within village limits, giving Hillside its distinctive shape.”

Limestone was found in the 1850’s by farmer Marion Covell just a few feet below the surface of his property. He turned the farm into a quarry in 1854 that continued to operate until the mid-1970s, as it supplied crushed stone used for building roads throughout Chicagoland. However, the quarry was acquired by the John Sexton Company in 1979 was turned into a sanitary landfill, despite protests from village residents.

Hillside is also known for its cemeteries, including Mount Carmel, which opened in 1894. The resting place of several bishops, archbishops, and cardinals from the Archdiocese of Chicago is at Mount Carmel in the Bishop’s Mausoleum.

In 1919, the Servants of Mary order (also known as the Servites) opened the Mater Dolorosa Seminary in the rear of the monastery at Our Lady of Sorrows in Jackson Boulevard in Chicago. There is an irony here: the same classrooms that the seminary began in also was the birthplace of St. Phillip High School (also on this site). The name “Mater Dolorosa” is Latin for “suffering mother,” referring to a 13th Century hymn about Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, at the time of his crucifixion.

A total of 25 students were enrolled in September 1919 in the four-year high school that was created, and later moved to the western suburb of Hillside in 1927 at the corner of Hillside Avenue and Butterfield Road. The school remained opened until 1945 when it became a preparatory school for those entering the priesthood.


Year opened in Chicago:         1919

Year moved to Hillside:           1927

Year closed:                          1945


especially if you know anything about Mater Delorosa Seminary. We invite you to contact us with you information and photos at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net or by clicking on this Guest Commentary link. For those who would rather prefer to use the USPS, our address is:

Illinois High School Glory Days

6439 North Nava

Chicago, IL  60631

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