Joliet St. Joseph Commercial H.S.

St. Joseph Commercial High School
A brick building with a cross on top

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

The History of St. Joseph Commercial 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.

St. Joseph Commercial High School was opened in September 1914 by the Rev. John Krajnec on Scott Street near Chicago Street on the city’s east side by the Des Plaines River as a two-year commercial high school with nine co-ed students enrolled. The school’s beginning coincided with the opening of a new school building for grade school students of the parish, which still stands today. St. Joseph first opened a grade school in 1895 and is located in a neighborhood that was the home of many Slovenian immigrants. High school courses for the school were held in the building pictured above, on the second floor in the rooms to the left.

Joliet St. Joseph Academy Class of 1916
A group of people posing for a photo

Description automatically generated

The School Sisters of St. Francis Mary Immaculate were in charge of the school, which closed in 1919 due to the opening of DeLaSalle High School & the renaming of Providence High School (from St. Mary’s) in order to allow those students in the neighborhood to pursue a Catholic education at a four-year academic high school.


Year opened:                 1914

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.”

If You Have ANY Further Information to Share…

…regarding the history of Joliet St. Joseph Commercial Academy please contact us via the following means:


USPS:   IHSGD Website

              6439 N. Neva Ave.

              Chicago, Il.   60631


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: