Chicago (population 2.8 million) is in northeastern Illinois in eastern Cook
County. Lake Michigan, along with the Chicago
and Des Plaines Rivers
are the main waterways in the city. Interstates 55, 57, 90, & 94 will all lead you to the "Windy City." From what started as a small village
in the early 1800’s along the banks of Lake Michigan, Chicago has grown to the nation's third largest city and one of
the most famous places in the world, as the result of an ethnically diverse community that adopted the city.
St. Elizabeth High School first opened its doors to female students only in 1890 on 41st Street in Chicago where Mercy
Academy was located. The Sisters of Mercy were in charge of the school, which was part of a parish.
A commerical course of study was added in 1911 as the enrollment grew to 221 in the fall of 1914, only to drop to 175
six years later. During this time, the city of Chicago experienced a wave of African-Americans moving from the South
to the city for employment, either bringing families with them or starting them after settling down. In response to these
changes, the school's racial makeup became African-American in 1922 with the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament instructing
both boys and girls, while the Caucasians moved into another building.
Two years later, the St. Elizabeth girls at Mercy were part of a consolidation into a new school called Mercy High School as the result of restructuring of the Archdiocese high schools by George Cardinal Mundelein, and became
possibly one of the first efforts of desegregation in a Chicago Catholic high school. With the influx of students coming from
St. Patrick's on the southeast side of town, St. Ita's from the north, St. James from the northwest, and St. Gabriel from the south, Mercy was forced to build a new facility that would open in 1926.
Due to the increase in enrollment, the remaining students from St. Elizabeth moved into the former Mercy
Academy building in 1926, then into the LaSalle University Extension building at Michigan Avenue and 41st Street in 1944.
That building offered plenty of space for 11 classrooms, two labs, cafeteria, library, assembly hall, and office space. But
it was also the home to the Swift Club, a social gathering hall that housed a ballroom and club rooms, which became alive
after 2 o'clock in the afternoon each day.
St. Elizabeth stayed co-ed until 1962 when the school went back to an all-female enrollment and Hales Franciscan
High School opened as an all-boys' school. Unfortunately, the school was not able to go on much longer as it closed after
the 1966-67 school year. Only 162 students and five faculty members were there during that final school year, which
closed on account of a lack of teaching sisters and financial problems. The remaining sophomores and juniors were transferred
to Loretto Academy in the Woodlawn neighborhood or to other schools closer to students' homes.
The St. Elizabeth building is no longer still standing, having been torn down years ago. In its place is a
modern version of St. Elizabeth's Church, which was constructed in 1988-89, and serves the African-American population
of Chicago's South Side. Information about the former high school building is welcomed at the addresses listed below.
An excellent time-line regarding the history of St. Elizabeth's parish and school can be viewed at the web address
FACTS ABOUT CHICAGO ST. ELIZABETH HIGH SCHOOL
Year opened as all-girls' school:
Year school desegregated & allowed boys: 1922
Year it returned to all-girls' school: 1962
School colors: Blue
School song (partial listing, thanks for former student Rosalie Sherrill)
Saint Elizabeth, Saint Elizabeth
We are proud to call you our own
Your patience, your guidance
Your thought resemble our very own....