The History of Westchester Immaculate Heart of Mary High School
Westchester (population 16,824) is located in far northeastern Illinois in west-central Cook County. Westchester is a western suburb of Chicago located about 5 miles west of the Chicago city limits. U.S. Route 12 (Manheim Road) and U.S. 38 (Roosevelt Road) intersect in Westchester. In addition, Interstate Highway 290 is located on the north side of Westchester. The Salt Creek flows through the south side of town. The Soo Line Railroad runs through the east side of Westchester.
The web address of http://www.franzosenbuschheritagesociety.org/Histories/Westchester/Early%20Village%20History.htm#Creation%20and%20Early%20History%20of%20The%20Village, has some excellent history of Proviso Township and the establishment of the city of Westchester. It would appear that Westchester would be one of the newer cities in Illinois, certainly one of the newer cities on this site. Westchester was incorporated in October of 1925 and was chartered in January of 1926. Village growth went from the mid-300’s in the 1930’s to 620 in 1940. By 1955, Westchester had a population of approximately 11,000!
The population growth saw the need for educational facilities. This eventually led to the creation of an all-boys’ and an all-girls’ catholic high school in Westchester. Immaculate Heart of Mary was established in 1960 and served the young girls of the area for 45 years. The school was in the planning stages when the land was purchased in 1946, but the official announcement did not come until 1959. The Sisters Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IMH) was the order that was in charge of the school when it admitted 314 girls in September 1960 at the boys’ high school nearby, St. Joseph.
The IMH building was not ready until March of 1962, and the first four-year class graduated 285 students in the spring of 1964. Up to 1,400 students were enrolled in the fall of 1965, which was the peak of enrollment for Immaculate Heart of Mary, which also offered exchange and summer programs with St. Joseph during that time.
The school went thru some tough financial times in the late-1960’s and early-1970’s that consolidation talks with St. Joseph were raised in 1971. The two schools were located close to each other. Although it was once one of the premier girls catholic high schools in the entire Chicago area, declining enrollment and a changing economic environment began to take its toll in the early 2000’s. It was finally decided to close the high school after the 2004-05 school year.
An article about the closure can be found at the following web address:
Immaculate Heart of Mary High School Quick Facts
Year opened: 1960
Year closed: 2005
Consolidated to: St. Joseph’s High School (Westchester)
IHM team nickname: the “Tigers”
IHM team colors: Royal Blue & White
School Fight Song: “IHM High”
Provided by Susan Colaire, written by Sr. Patrick Mary
Lead us ever nigh,
To goals both high and true,
For minds trained and friends gained,
We’re grateful now to you!
As the years roll by,
Our standards high,
We’ll tell the whole world why
In our Hall of Fame,
You’ll find the name of IHM High!