St. Anne Academy High School

St. Anne Academy High School Building 1921-1937
A building with trees in front of it

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Credit: Lake County Discovery Museum/Curt Teich Postcard Archives.
St. Anne Academy High School Building 1884-1920
A building with trees in front of it

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Courtesy of Sherree Benoit

The History of St. Anne Academy

St. Anne (population 1,212) is located in east central Illinois, located 10 miles west of the Illinois-Indiana border and 12 miles southeast of Kankakee. State Route 1 (aka the Dixie Highway) runs thru town, as do two railroads and there are two lakes (Cote Lake and Pickeral Lake) that are at the north end of the community.

It is believed that St. Anne was founded around 1850 during the time when the Rev. Charles Chiniquy moved there after leaving Boubonnais Grove (now Bourbonnais), following a fire that destroyed the church he was the pastor of in 1853. Chiniquy’s history is one filled with controversy due to being accused of setting that fire, and was defended in court twice by Abraham Lincoln with both trials ending in a hung jury. The priest was also excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church by the Bishop of Chicago at the time, Anthony O’Regan, and started a Presbyterian Church in St. Anne as he took many Catholic followers with him.

Around 1883, the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame came to St. Anne as a way to offset the problems that were caused by Chiniquy’s excommunication by opening up an co-ed school as an alternative to the public school that was already in place. St. Anne Academy opened on September 29th of that year as 40 students were enrolled. The sisters suffered physical privations and abuse from residents during that first school year as Chiniquy’s supporters opposed the new school.

Needless to say, the enrollment grew the following year to the point that boarding students were accepted. Along with that, a new four-story building was opened on July 15, 1884 to accomodate those students as the school became incorporated as St. Anne Academy on the same day.

Both grade and high school students were in attendance, taking subjects such as French, china painting, oil painting and water colors. A four-year high school was organized in 1906. The school expanded and was renovated during the summers of 1919 & 1920 when a total of 150 students were enrolled.

Tragedy struck in the form of fire on November 6th, 1920 when the school was totally destroyed. Even though the community came together and collected enough money to rebuild, the sisters were withdrawn by their order, and the school reopened in 1921 with the Sisters Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary from nearby Beaverville (south of St. Anne) in charge of the school, which consisted of a grade school and two-year high school.

St. Anne Academy was operated by the Sisters Servants thru 1935 when they left, and the school was closed for good in the spring of 1937. Today, all students attend high school at St. Anne High School (a public school).


Year opened:                            1883

Year four-year school opened:    1906

Year it cut back to two years:     1921

Year closed:                             1937


then please contact us. We are always looking for information about the school, memories of graduating or former students and so on. A picture is also greatly appreciated. Please contact us at or thru the USPS at:

Illinois High School Glory Days

6439 North Neva

Chicago, IL  60631

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