Rockford Bishop Muldoon High School

Rockford Bishop Muldoon High School Bldg – 2007
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Submitted by Helen Finegan
Bishop Muldoon HS Inscription
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Courtesy of Helen Finegan

The History of Bishop Muldoon Catholic High School

Rockford, Illinois is one of Illinois’ core cities. It is located in extreme Northern Illinois. Interstates 39 and 90, as well as U.S. Routes 20 and 51 and Illinois Routes 2, 70 and 251 all take you to the third largest city in Illinois. Rockford was first settled in 1834 by Germanicus Kent and Thatcher Blake.

Girls were educated at the St. Thomas School beginning in 1912. In 1929, the school split into two with a new St. Thomas School built (for boys) and Bishop Muldoon (for girls), a three-story structure on Rockford’s west end. This school was completed in Septemper of 1929. Bishop Edward Hogan dedicated the new Catholic high school for girls, named Muldoon in honor of Rockford’s first bishop, the Rev. Peter J. Muldoon. He had served as bishop from 1908 until his death in 1927.

The Bishop Muldoon High School operated for 41 years, from 1929 to 1970. In 1960, freshmen classes began at a newer co-ed school which was built on Rockford’s north side bringing in students from Muldoon and St. Thomas schools. This school is called Boylan Central Catholic High School.

George Fornero has provided a more comprehensive history of St. Thomas and Muldoon High School histories.

St. Thomas and Bishop Muldoon High Schools, Rockford IL

“Muldoon High School began as St. Thomas High School in September 1910 at St. James School in Rockford.  The school, co-ed in the beginning, was initially staffed by the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters.  The 1st class consisted of twenty (20) students; the next year there were seventy (70) students.  The school was relocated from St. James Elementary School to the former Ellis School at the corner of State & Stanley Streets in Rockford in 1912.  After some remodeling & expansion, classes began at the new location on November 9, 1912.  To address the ever-growing enrollment, classes were held in the Knights of Columbus clubroom in the fall of 1920.  Further over-crowding led to the purchase of the Coliseum on West State Street in 1921.

In 1929, separate schools were built for the boys and the girls.  The boys attended the new St. Thomas High School on Mulberry Street and the girls attended the newly constructed Muldoon High School located at Stanley and Elm Streets.  Cardinal Mundelein blessed the new high school on May 25, 1930.  The Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters withdrew from Muldoon High School in 1933.  They were replaced by the Adrian Dominican Sisters.  Muldoon High School closed in 1970 & the students transferred to Boylan Central Catholic High School, also in Rockford.   Enrollment at Muldoon was 300 under the direction of 14 Adrian Dominican Sisters and one (1) lay teacher during the 1963-64 school year.  Enrollment during the 1966-67 school year was 335 under the direction of 13 Sisters and four (4) lay teachers.

Initially, the Christian Brothers operated St. Thomas High School for Boys from 1929 until 1933.  In 1933, the Augustinian Fathers took over the operation of the school.  (They relocated from Aurora where they operated Fox Valley High School which later became Marmion High School!)   In an attempt to increase enrollment, the school changed its name to St. Thomas of Villanova Preparatory School for Boys in 1960.   However, declining enrollment forced the school to close in 1962 and the students transferred to Boylan Central Catholic High School.”

The Muldoon building had been converted into a clinic, called the Muldoon Grove Crusade Clinic. It is still in operation under that purpose.

Bishop Muldoon High School “Quick Facts”:

Year opened:                       1929

Year closed:                         1970

Named for:                           Rev. Peter J. Muldoon

Building Status:                    Muldoon Grove Crusade Clinic

School Colors:                      White & Gold

School Mascot:                     Unavailable


From 1960 graduate Julianne (Rowe) Lentz:

“I can at least fill in the school colors for you.  They were “white & gold”. Remember the school song — “HAIL TO THE WHITE AND THE GOLD” ?  Don’t ask me to sing it, as I surely don’t remember all the words. They may be in my “Muldoon Student Handbook”.

There are a few other facts, that I know for sure.  The actual last graduating class at the “all girl” school, was in 1970. My sister graduated in 1962. As alumnae, we were invited to an open house at Muldoon in the spring of 1970. The graduating class of that year, hosted the open house for all alumnae, as the  school would then be closed for good.

I also looked at your site on St. Thomas school. As Boylan HS opened in the fall of 1960, they took ALL 4 yrs of students.  However, Muldoon continued to run as an all-girl school:  St. Thomas, then, accepted only sophomores,  juniors, and seniors in the fall of 1960.  The following year,  they had only juniors & seniors.   …And their last graduating class was in 1963.  That allowed any boys who had started at St. Thomas, to finish out there.

I have fond memories of going to school at Muldoon; the uniforms,  the hall guards, and many dances.  And yes, as posted on the St. Thomas page,  our prom dresses did need to be inspected, to be sure we were properly covered for those events. I have my 4 yearbooks yet;   maybe I can find some pages there you might enjoy.  I KNOW you’ll get a kick out of the “rules & regulations” in our handbook.”

**From Sherry Coffey Kersey:

“This site had me rocking in laughter………Thanks for putting it up!

Lordy. the kids of today would think the world ending if they had to follow the yesteryear rules………..but WE SURVIVED!

I remember the dress fiasco on prom dresses, and mental quandry i kept those nuns in with my constant daily drag of book volume, when i`m sure they thought me 3 bricks short of a full load…..when in fact they were simply the inset joy of text books `i had no interest in whatsoever…….. but i wasnt about to let them in on my secret which would have gotten me in big trouble at home.

Aaaaaah, and St.Thomas…..the school that got my 2 brothers scolarships due to their activities in football…….aaaaaaah, such warm,laughable memories………and respect i gained by the moral teachings….plus, now that the rustic years have arrived, and everything i do makes my body creak in dismay……I`m still having fun with all those words i absorbed like a sponge in HS! Will send an example of addressing days problems minus the college degrees……..Left school in 1959…..just few short months before graduation.

And the minx in the black/white habit named Sister Agnes Joseph (Aggie Jo) who kept my Irish spirit in check and has been revered in memory more years than I care to count …. and fed the fires of inspiration with her stern dictates, and humorous sparkle of eyes……….Aye, t` was truly the “Glory Years!”

**From Mary Lu DeBroeck Cramer (Class of 1970):

“I am a 1970 graduate of Bishop Muldoon, the last graduating class.   The school, run by Adrian Dominican nuns, ran into financial problems.  The school provided an excellent collage prep education for about 300 girls.  Tuition was only $125.00 my freshman year. The only athletics were inter mural basketball and softball.   The girls used to sell chocolate bars every year to help with funding, as much as $20,000 one year.   During a time before woman’s liberation, we were encouraged to be leaders.  I value my education from there a great deal.

Seeking More Information About Student Life

Information is needed about some of the student life that made Bishop Muldoon High School what it was. Personal stories and memories are a must-have for this page. Were athletics offered? As you can see, we are in need of some help here. If you have ANY information regarding Bishop Muldoon High School, we’re also looking for a photo of the building, drop us an E-mail at – or – you can mail to us at:

Illinois High School Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago, IL  60631\


The alumnae of Muldoon High School are still an active and progressive group.  They are currently in the process of planting “Muldoon Grove” in the area where the former convent building was located.  For all graduates, bricks are being sold to commemorate past classes and teachers.  A copy of the form for donating funds and purchasing a brick to be placed in the garden is shown below.

*Special gratitude goes out to Helen Finegan for the photos shown on this page.

Muldoon Grove Fund Raiser Form

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