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
St. Philip High School opened its doors to boys only in 1904 at the
rear of Our Lady of Sorrows Monastery by Servite Fathers on Chicago's West Side as a four-year academic school that also had
a three-year commercial course. A preparatory program was also offered to 7th and 8th grade boys when the school opened, but
it only lasted until 1916 at the school, which was also known as St. Philip Basilica High School after 1956 by a papal decree
made by Pope Pius XII.
St. Philip Benizi was a Servite Cardinal that lived in Italy and joined the order in
1253 at the age of 20 after having practiced medicine. He was also considered to be a possible succesor to Pope Clement IV
and was granted sainthood in 1671.
A new building was ready for occupancy in 1910, while a gym with pool, bowling alleys, basketball
courts, locker room and meeting rooms were added in 1924. More classroom space was erected in 1938, and an all-concrete
stadium was ready in 1944.
The school stayed open thru two World Wars, the Great Depression, and the Baby Boom to educate
young men in a parochial environment. St. Philip averaged about 1,000 students at its peak between the late-1950's and early-1960's,
then started to taper off to a point that 602 students were enrolled in the school's final year in 1970, which is
when the Archdiocese of Chicago decided to close down St. Philip's.
In his 1990 dissertation about Chicago Catholic high schools, our good friend George Fornero stated
that some of the reasons why the school closed its doors were as follows: the decrease of teaching religious faculty
within the Servite order; the number of students deciding to choose religious life as a vocation significantly decreased;
mounting operational deficits (the New World reported "an annual operating deficit of over $70,000"); and, the racial
makeup of the school's neighborhood changed from Caucasian to African-American.
Prior to making the final decision, some of the other options that were considered for St.
Philip students were to merge with Providence-St. Mel (nearby on the West Side), merging with all-girls' Siena and Providence-St. Mel and establish a parish grade school in the St. Philip building, or to phase out St. Philip
by graduating the sophomores and juniors that were currently there at the time.
The building that housed St. Philip was later turned into Our
Lady of Sorrows Grade School, and still remains in use today as a charter school on Chicago's West Side. Alumni still
meet annually and can find out more at http://www.stphilipgaels.org/.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT CHICAGO ST. PHILIP
School nickname: "Gaels"
Purple & Gold
School song: "PURPLE & GOLD"
Lyrics Provided by RICHARD WHITE, music courtesy of RICK IACCHINO from http://www.stphilipgaels.org/
Purple and gold, purple and gold,
To a man we're back of you,
Not for a day, but when we're away,
St. Philip School.
Rah, Rah. Rah
Loving her name, ever the same,
With a love that will never grow old,
Loving the purple, loving the gold,
purple and gold!