|Courtesy of Ellen DePriest
|Chicago Loretto Academy (Original Building)
|Submitted by Ellen DePriest
The History of Chicago Loretto Academy
Chicago (population 2.8 million) was established in the early 1800's along the banks of Lake MIchigan
and the Chicago River. Chicago sits in the far northeastern portion of Illinois in the center of Cook County. Interstate
Highways 55, 57, 90, and 94 all lead you to Chicago. Several Illinois Routes also lead to and from Chicago.
Chicago has been the home to several parochial schools throughout the years. Among them was Loretto Academy.
This all-girls' Catholic high school was located on the city of Chicago's east side. The school building was erected at
65th Street and Blackstone Avenue in Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood, near where Mount Carmel High School for Boys is
The Academy was founded by a group of catholic nuns known as the Ladies of Loretto, who were invited
by the Carmelite fathers to open a school for girls. The Lorettines did so with 30 students enrolled on January 6, 1906
at St. Cyril's Parish.
|Ethel Louise Monarque's Class Ring of 1914
|Submitted by her Great-Granddaughter Peggy Talbot
Loretto Academy remained all-girls' the entire time it was open, beginning as a grade and high school that accepted
day & boarding students. In 1925, it discontinued the grade school, while the boarding
practice ended in 1933. The high school continued to serve the area for several more
In 1962, the school accepted students from Loretto High School
in the nearby Englewood neighborhood when it closed, which stopped the confusion of Loretto High School and Loretto Academy
(both of which were all-girls' schools that were located on the south side, and run by
the same order of nuns!).
Five years later in 1967, the school reached a three-fold event. First
of all, it accepted more transfer students when St. Elizabeth
(another all-girls' school) closed. Second, it posted the enrollment to a peak of over 350 students, the most in
school history, and third, the school caught up with the changes in the neighborhood by
having an all African-American student body. This was the result of people coming
from the Deep South to find better opportunities in the Windy City, which had been begun
as early as 1950.
Loretto Academy also accepted slow-learning students as the result of a program
started in 1966 with the Archdiocese of Chicago. Those students could take advantage
of getting a four-year diploma as well as working experience with retail giant Sears Roebuck
for two years in a work-study program before looking for a job in a normal setting.
The school eventually
consolidated with Mercy High School
(another all-girls' school) in 1972 to form Unity High School
. The Loretto Academy building was sold to a neighborhood organization, which offered adult education classes
thru Kennedy-King College. The fate of the building is unknown at this time.
Loretto Academy Quick Facts
Unity Catholic High School
School athletic information: See
School newspaper: The
|Loretto Academy 1950's
|Courtesy of Ellen DePriest
The girls of Loretto Academy participated in G.A.A. and other activities to help them achieve
physical fitness. The school closed (1972) before the IHSA officially recognized and sponsored girls athletics
(1974). However, the school was among a pioneering group of high schools that participated in interscholastic athletics,
as evidenced by the following facts provided by historian Robert Pruter.
As early as 1927, Loretto was part of the Catholic High School Girls' Basketball League, competing against
Visitation, Loretto High, Longwood, St. Catherine (later known as Siena), St. Xavier, St. Mary, Mercy, St. Scholastica, Evanston Marywood, and Wilmette Mallickrodt. The school did not win a conference championship and the league broke up in 1932 when the Catholic Youth
Organization formed its own league.
If you any further information you wish to share regarding the athletic exploits of Loretto Academy,
please contact us via the means listed below.
We are certain that there were many extra-curricular activities that were a fun and educational part
of the Loretto High School experience. Band, chorus, student government, plays, and many other activities were likely
offered throughout the school year.
From Evelyn Wright (class of 1965):
attended Loretto (Englewood) my first year....our school closed...last 3 years at Loretto Academy - Woodlawn....what was best:
Glee Club...I didn't know it at the time that the Mary Poppins songs would forever be with me. Which, by the way, I love
to sing even today.
2. There was also the Sodality of Our Lady Club...I was a member...we met in the school library
uniforms...were such a blessing.
4. Loretto offered Business Ed or College courses...I sincerely appreciate my
typing/shorthand teacher, Mother Clarice...because of her, I was the fastest typist as well as #1 writing and transcribing
Gregg Shorthand. This skill afforded me employment...and saved my dad.
5. Dedicated Nuns...I help pay my tuition
by working at the School/Convent so I got to know the nuns quite well as they did me. They were the best."
remember Loretto Academy quite well. I attended Mount Carmel High School from where I graduated in 1952. I am now 80
"Also I lived a 66th and Ingleside at the time and was fortunate to have 3 very beautiful girls living next
door to me. They were the Shanley sisters whose names were Mary, Nancy, and Jeanne. They all served as cheer-leaders for the
MC football team. Mary was the oldest, then Nancy and Jeanne.
"I am saddened to think how time has passed, but then
again fortunate to have such warm memories."
Do You Have Information You Can Share?
If you do, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photos are welcome, as well as memories. You may also send items to us via "real" mail at:
6439 N. Neva Ave.
Chicago, Il. 60631