The History of St. John the Baptist High School
Joliet (population 129,519) is located in northeastern Illinois in west-central Will County. In fact, is the county seat of Will County and spills over into Kendall County to the west. Joliet was platted in 1834 and officially incorporated in 1852. After much discussion over the town’s early name (it was known as Juliet from 1834 to 1845), Joliet was settled upon to honor Louis Joliet, famous explorer who first viewed the area in 1673.
A number of routes have served as ways to reach Joliet, including the legendary Route 66, which was replaced by Interstate 55, along with Interstate 80, US Routes 6, 30, 45, 52, and Illinois Routes 7, 53, and 171. The rail service has been provided by the Elgin, Joliet, and Eastern (EJE) RR, along with the AT & SF RR, & the former Rock Island RR, which shut down in 1980. Daily commuter service to Chicago is offered by Metra (short for Metropolitan Train Service) from the Regional Transportation Authority based in Chicago. The Des Plaines River also flows thru the heart of Joliet, and the community also served as a primary stop on the Illinois & Michigan Canal.
During the early part of the 20th Century, the city of Joliet was home to a number of high schools that existed. St. John the Baptist and St. Joseph Commercial High Schools were parish-operated institutions that served their purpose during World War I and both closed their doors in 1919. Anyone who may have more should contact us at email@example.com .
St. John the Baptist High School opened in Joliet in 1904 as a co-ed commercial parish school. The school was operated by the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate at St. John the Baptist Parish, which still functions today as a church.
Very little is known about the school and how long of a commercial course was taught. In part because of the opening of DeLaSalle High School, St. Francis Academy, and St. Mary’s Academy, St. John the Baptist closed in the spring of 1919, mainly due to low enrollment and competition from those three schools.
FACTS ABOUT JOLIET ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST HIGH SCHOOL
Year opened: 1904
Year closed: 1919
Memories & Facts
**From an informed historian, who wishes to remain anonymous:
“The parish schools at Saint John’s and Saint Joseph’s were both grade and high schools until 1918, and also until 1918, the original Providence High School (at Cass and Ottawa) was called Saint Mary’s Academy.
Joliet was then part of the Archdiocese of Chicago and the bishop, Cardinal Mundelein, believed very strongly in the superiority of larger, centralized high schools. These were usually run by religious Orders that were expert in teaching, as opposed to the smaller parish high schools, which he saw simply as outgrowths of the grade schools and under the immediate supervision of the parish priest, who was not typically expert in pedagogy as were the various Orders of teaching Brothers, teaching priests and school Sisters. As a result, Cardinal Mundelein not only encouraged the Christian Brothers to found the new, centralized De La Salle High School (precursor to Joliet Catholic) in Joliet in 1918, but at the same time, he stressed unambiguously to pastors throughout the archdiocese that to upgrade the quality of secondary education, he wanted the small parish high schools closed (or at least phased out gradually) in order to lend strength to the emerging centralized high schools. Although not every parish in the archdiocese complied, most did, including the two Joliet parish high schools at Saint John’s and Saint Joseph’s.
At that same time, the Order responsible for Saint Mary’s Academy departed from Joliet (where they were also staffing four of the parish grade schools) and sold the high school to the Sisters of Providence, who renamed it Providence High School, in honor of God, the Faithful PROVIDER.”
THE MORE INFORMATION WE HAVE…..
the better we can tell the stories of this school. Granted, there may not be any graduates left from St. John the Baptist, but there is always the possibility that information has been documented somewhere by a graduate or someone who knew about these schools, and that’s what we’re all about. Please contact us if you have more details at firstname.lastname@example.org or send it thru the USPS to the following address:
Illinois High School Glory Days
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Chicago, IL 60631