South Chicago High School

South Chicago High School
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The History of South Chicago High School

Chicago (population 2.8 million) is located in far northeastern Illinois in the center of Cook County. It is currently the third largest cities in the United States of America and is one of the most famous cities in the world. Lake Michigan provides Chicago’s eastern most border. Several roadways and railroads, as well as O’Hare and Midway airports, will take you to the city of Chicago.

South Chicago High School was first opened in 1876 at the corner of 93rd and Houston as Bowen School, but it started accepting high schoolers in 1882 when it known as South Chicago High. It remained open until 1910 when Bowen HIgh School (named for James H. Bowen, considered “the Father of South Chicago”) was opened to replace South Chicago High.

The building that housed South Chicago remained in use as a branch for Bowen until 1960 before it was torn down. The community itself was developed in earnest after the Civil War as paper and steel mills began to come to South Chicago because of its location along Lake Michigan as well as the Calumet River. The city of Chicago later annexed South Chicago apparently sometime during the 1890’s as the city grew tremendously during the decade.

Today, Bowen High School remains and is the home to four smaller schools within its’ walls: Chicago Discovery Academy, Bowen Environmental Studies Team (BEST) High School, Global Visions Academy, and New Millennium School of Health.


Year opened:               1882

Year closed:                 1910

Now known as:            Bowen High School

School colors:              unknown

School nickname:        unknown

School song:                unknown


It is believed that South Chicago offered sports to both boys and girls during the time it was opened. We believe the boys participated in softball, as well as football, basketball, track, and possibly baseball, while the girls’ choices might have been limited to basketball and softball, while it was a member of the Cook County League between 1898 and 1910. Anyone who has more information can contact us at the addresses below.


From the IHSA website (, we have been able to find a state record that involved South Chicago. On January 30th, 1903, the South Chicago girls’ played Hammond, IN to a 1-1 tie, which also set the state record for fewest points scored in a game by two girls’ teams in the state of Illinois. Almost a year later, they came close to tying the mark again on January 23rd, 1904 with 3-1 win over Medill. In addition, Helen Kendall scored 64 for SCHS versus Phillips (also known as South Division) on March 10th, 1905.


Thru the writing of IHSA historian Robert Pruter, we did find out that South Chicago did have a boys’ softball team that played during the winter months. A league was formed (Cook County Indoor League) in 1896, with North DivisionSouth DivisionWest DivisionEnglishMedill and South Chicago were members. South Chicago did not win a league title in the years that the sport was played.


From Marcia Borst Klenbort (dated December 27, 2021):

“I understand you collect information on South Chicago High School. I am writing a small essay on my grandfather for my grandchildren. He is Hugh Owen Jones, and he graduated from South Chicago High School in 1892, one of a class of 11 graduates. I have his high school pin, which reads RURSUS NUMQUAM [I don’t have a satisfactory translation of that!  Never Again??].

“According to a South Chicago newspaper of June 1892, each student gave an oration or sang a song. He gave an oration:  “Sunday and the World’s Fair.” His father worked at the Steel Mill — in that neighborhood?  Both of his parents were born in Wales, came to Wisconsin to farm, and made their way to Chicago later. Hugh Owen Jones was born on Purple Street, close to the city center, near 21st and Wentworth.  [That street was ‘vacated’ in 1900.].

“After high school, he went to Pharmacy School in order to work as a pharmacist while he worked his way through medical school at Rush Medical College. He was a family doctor with an office at 47th and Lake Park Ave., and then worked for the Chicago Board of Health, mostly as head of the Bureau of Child Welfare, responsible for disease protection — mainly diphtheria and smallpox. Before he retired in the 1930s, he was Commissioner of the Chicago Board of Health. I hope this is of some interest to your collection.”


about the history of South Chicago High School? Then we could use your help. Please send us your details via email to or by clicking on this Guest Commentary link. We also accept information the old-fashioned way (no, by pony express or homing pidgeon) by sending it thru the USPS. Here’s our address:

IHSGD Website

6439 North Neva

Chicago, IL  60631

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