Chicago Academy of Our Lady/aka Longwood "Blue Devils"

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Chicago Academy of Our Lady
chgoacadofourlady95ththroop.jpg
95th Street @ Throop Street

                              The History of Chicago Academy of Our Lady
 
Chicago (population 2.8 million) is located in northeastern Illinois in eastern Cook County. Lake Michigan, the Chicago and Illinois Rivers, and the Des Plaines River are the main waterways to and from town. I-90, I-94, I-55, and I-57 will all lead you to the "Windy City." From what started as a small village in the early 1800s', Chicago has grown to the nation's third largest city and one of the most famous places in the world.
 
Academy of Our Lady was opened in 1875 as Academy of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, which was co-ed and had a total of 13 day & boarding students from 1-12. In 1886, it changed its name to the Institute of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart when it was incorporated by the state of Illinois, and that school was co-ed until 1892 when another school (St. Margaret) was opened.
 
From that point, it was girls only, even after changing its name to Academy of Our Lady in 1898. The boarding practice stopped in 1935, and it took just high school students only beginning in 1950. In 1952, there were 939 girls enrolled at the school that was also known as Longwood, and it closed its doors at 1309 West 95th Street in 1999. 
 
The main building (we believe that it is the one shown at the top of this page) was built in 1899 to replace another building. A second building called Aquinas Hall that housed classrooms, dormitories, and a gym was added in 1921, Hackman Hall came along in 1927 to house the music conservatory, and the science hall became the fourth building on campus in 1930. A fifth building, Notre Dame Hall, was later constructed in the 1950's.
 
Today, the campus is the home of Chicago International Charter School-Longwood (CICS-Longwood), but the AOL alumnae offices are still located on site.
 
If you have any further information you can add, or if any of the above information needs to be corrected, please do not hestitate to contact us at the e-mail address of dr.veeman@gmail.com.      
 
Chicago Academy of Our Lady Catholic Quick Facts
 
Year opened:                                       1875
Year closed:                                        1999
Academy of Our Lady team nickname:   the "Blue Devils"
Academy of Our Lady team colors:        Yellow & White, later Blue & White 
Academy of Our Lady fight song:           unavailable

Athletics & Extra-Curricular Activities
 
There was only one area of IHSA sponsored events that we were able to find evidence of participation by the students of AOL. That area was in the activity of drama. We believe that Academy of Our Lady also competed in sports such as basketball, volleyball, and softball, possibly even track. Plus, even more extra-curriculars as well. School fight song, coach's names, and team records are all items we are searching for.
 
 
BASKETBALL
 
Prep historian Robert Pruter says the school was a member of the Catholic High School Girls' Basketball League from 1928-31. It competed with the likes of Visitation, Loretto High, St. Catherine (also known as Siena), Loretto Academy, St. Xavier, St. Scholastica, St. MaryAquinas, Alvernia, Wilmette Mallinckrodt, and Evanston Marywood. The league broke up in 1931-32 when the Catholic Youth Organization created its own league.    
 
Drama
 
The Drama Team of 1945 had an incredible streak of fortune. After winning the Sectional title that year, the team advanced to the IHSA State competition. There the team almost pulled off the big prize, settling for a SECOND place finish at the competition. If you have any further information on this team, please contact us via the means listed below.
 
1945       TEAM FINISHED SECOND AT IHSA COMPETITION!!
               Sectional Champions
 
Theatre
 
The Illinois Theatre Festival is the largest, non-competitive high school theatre festival in the world. It was organized in 1976 by teachers from the Chicago suburbs. This festival is still going strong as they perform at the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) and Illinois State University every other January. Academy of Our Lady of Chicago participated in this festival from 1976-77, 1981, 1983 and 1985-86.
 
 
MEMORIES
 
(from Bridget McGhee, class of 1984) "...I had great memories at Longwood...it changed my life growing up as a young woman in the 80's. I do know that Mendel High school was our Brother school. But it closed some years ago. I did know when I was there we had sports: Basketball, Volleyball, Track, and Softball. And we had clubs. I will to look thru some of my year books to get information for you." 
 
(from Donna Wilkey, class of 1963) "...also known as Longwood and often called “snob hill.” The school was located in an upscale section of Chicago called Beverly. I graduated from Longwood in 1963. My mother and her sister also graduated in the early 1930’s. Part of the draw to Longwood was that kind of tradition where daughters attended and hopefully became a “Longwood Lady.” My mom came from 76th and Halsted area and I came from Oak Lawn to attend the school.
 
"Hackman Hall was the center of the cultural studies. It had an wonderful auditorium for theater and symphony productions. Many practice rooms afforded the students and chorus the opportunity to prepare every afternoon. The chorus was my choice and in 1962 we teamed up with Brother Rice High School and made a long playing record in the recording studios of Channel 9 television downtown. Longwood’s school song is on that album.
 
"We had hall monitors who checked to be sure that we were wearing nylon stockings everyday and not just drawing a thin eyebrow pencil line down the back of our legs. Bobby socks were frequently worn over the nylons.
 
"Seniors attended in Notre Dame Hall and were given privileges that denoted their rank. Every May we processed across the beautiful campus where lake and grottoes were kept in prime condition and someone crowned the statue of the Virgin Mary. That statue was placed outside the library on the balcony overlooking the rose walk where we assembled after saying the rosary."
 
(from an anonymous alumnae) "Hi, I was in the AOL graduating class of 1971....I can’t recall the team name.

 

"There is a school song, however, I don’t recall a fight song. AOL was active in basketball and volleyball league competition with other girl’s schools. The fiercest athletic rivalry when I attended was with Mother McCauley High School for Girls  (this school is near the campus of Brother Rice High School for Boys). 

 

"Looks like your website is approaching the school from more of an athletic point of view rather than an academic achievement and/or other extra-curricular angle.

 

"The AOL photo on your website shows the Administration Building (aka “AB Bldg.” to students), on the south side of 95th Street. What the photo and your website doesn’t mention is Notre Dame Hall, just south and connected to the AB Bldg. Notre Dame Hall was one floor, (built sometime in the 1950’s??) with mixed-use classrooms, a gym and a chemistry lab. 

 

"By the time I attended AOL, the AB Bldg.’s fourth floor was condemned and wasn’t used. Originally, the fourth floor served as a dormitory (?). Floors 1, 2 and  3 of the AB Bldg. were used on a daily basis. On AB Bldg.’s floors 1 and 2 the bathrooms had tubs and showers in them, however, only the toilets were used.

 

"I still receive alumna newsletters. I think there is an alumni office located at the original school on 95th Street (http://www.academyofourladyalumnae.org/index.html). There are alumna reunions held 1-2 times a year at the Oak Lawn Hilton, 94th & Cicero Avenue, Oak Lawn, Illinois.

 

"Since AOL closed in 1999, it is now the campus of the Chicago International Charter School.

 

"Forever a "Longwood Lady."

 

from Sally Borter (granddaughter of a former AOL student):

 

"I was interested to see some history of the school online. My grandmother and her sisters went to AOL and she often talked about it. The school meant a great deal to her. Her name was Anna Lavin; Her sister was Elizabeth (Bessie) Lavin.  They also had sisters Irene and Marie, but I do not know if they also went to school there. 
 
"The girls' parents divorced and at least two of them were sent to boarding school. This would probably be around the turn of the century or very early 1900's. It was very uncommon for your parents to be divorced back then, plus I think the home situation was not a happy one.
 
"My grandmother found great comfort in the school and the nuns. She was a wonderful baker and she gave the nuns credit for that. She was not a good student and the nuns always needed help in the kitchen. The cook would often get her out of class to help prepare food and my g-ma was only too happy to get out of class.
 
"Bessie Lavin probably graduated, but I think Anna Lavin left school at sixteen.  By that time, Bessie was old enough to run the household and all the children moved back home. I would love anything you could find for me about my family history at AOL. A picture would be too much to hope for. I would be willing to pay for someone to try to find some information on the Lavin children at the school.  Marie Lavin later became a nun (I think she was a Poor Clare). It was a cloistered order that had a convent near the Cubs ball park. I would like very much to hear from you with any information you could give me. Thanks." 
 
from Coleta Morlock:
 
"Not too many people would recall that Longwood was originally a boarding school. I was one of those who followed in her mother's footsteps to become a "Longwood Lady" and attended there because she did. Her name was Eva Cathryn Klein and she graduated on June 11, 1937. I attended from 1962-64, but did not graduate due to my father being transferred and a subsequent move to Michigan. I did keep in touch with some of my classmates like Lucia Yarbrough, Gwen Tunney, and Jeannette Mooney. Several of the sisters wrote to me as well - Sr. Mary Eva, and Sr. Anne Francis. Sr. Mario was even up here one year for a music convention so I hooked up with her briefly.
 
"I recall having my freshman homeroom on the 3rd floor of the Administration Building and having to really hustle to 2nd floor of Hackman Hall for choral with Sr. Mario within the 3 minute class exchange. And who could forget those hall cadets - back then I could not wait to become one! We had their directions drilled into our heads - single file, keep to the right, no talking. Oh, and how chilly it could be walking through the cloister walk in winter!
 
"Back when I was at AOL, the uniforms were navy for the underclassmen and gray for the upperclassmen. The way we differentiated between the years was as follows for 1962: freshman - white embroidered AOL on the pocket of the blazer, sophomore - gold embroidery, juniors - white, and seniors - gold.
 
"We were expected to wear our blazers at all times and white blouses. Underclassmen had skirts with mini pleats. The upperclassmen had box pleated gray skirts. The gym uniforms bore resemblance to a one piece jumpsuit in red as I recall. I once took a summer typing class, which proved to be quite beneficial.
 
"On my last day of school, I brought a camera and took pictures of the grounds. I took a snapshot of Hackman Hall with the lagoon in front. The Lagoon had lily pads that spelled out "AOL" and when in bloom, they was so beautiful! The statue of the Sacred Heart looked down upon it. The bridge was one of our favorite places to just stand and admire nature. I did a lot of reflecting at the Grotto with the statue of our Blessed Mother. 
 
"We had two mascots - one was a black Shepherd mix named Queenie and the other was a black and white Spaniel named Senator. I can recall many times when they were after our ice cream bars!  The convent was more of a "state of the art" building in contrast to the 1800's buildings. It's architecture resembled what we had at my old church, St. Thomas More.
 
"Thanks for allowing me to reminisce a bit about a school for which I will always have cherished memories!"
 
From Julie Grant (class of 1980):
 
Hi, I attended AOL from 1976-1980. At that time, we participated in the school league's volleyball, and basketball program. In 1979, the coach of the basketball team, Mr. Francis Beck, asked us to come up with a mascot for the team. We decided upon "The Little Devils" which we thought was unique seeing as we were a catholic school. We had yellow and blue satin jackets designed to show the new mascot which we wore proudly that year. The next year, it was changed  to the blue devils.
 
"I have great memories of my alma mater including being part of the drama club and mime troupe along with a now successful actress, T'keya Keymah who was known then as Crystal "Chrissy" Walker (who starred in "In Living Color" and "That's So Raven").
 
 
We Need Your Assistance
 
If you have ANY information regarding the achievements and history of Chicago's Academy of Our Lady High School please write to us at dr.veeman@gmail.com. You can also write to us via real mail at:
 
Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 N. Neva
Chicago, IL  60631