The History of Evanston Marywood High School
Evanston (population: 74,200) is located north of Chicago along the shores of Lake Michigan,
and is home of Northwestern University. The community can be reached by taking US 41, Illinois 58, and by
taking the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad.
First known as Grosse Pointe Territory at its founding in 1836, the name changed to Ridgeville
in 1850, then Evanston in 1863 in honor of John Evans, the founder of Northwestern University. The city became
incorporated in 1872 and is considered both a city and township.
Evanston also is known as the birthplace of the toy Tinkertoys, serves as the headquarters
for the Alpha Phi International women's sorority, along with the Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Sigma
Chi fraternities, Rotary International, the Womans' Christian Temperance Union and the National
Lekotek Center. It is believed that Evanston was also the birthplace of the ice cream sundae, although two other cities have
also laid claims to this fact.
Marywood High School (aka Marywood Academy) was opened in 1915 by the Sisters of Providence
of St. Mary-of-the-Woods after they took over Visitation Academy from the Sisters of the Visitation due to that order being supressed by the Archbishop of Chicago, James Quigley,
due to irregularities and internal dissention among the Visitadines. The four-story school building was already in place
at the corner of Ridge and Simpson, built in 1901 in a Georgian Revivial style at a cost of $40,000.00 by noted architect
Henry Schlacks, who had built many Catholic churches and schools in the Chicagoland area by using the Gothic
The school accepted day and boarding students for a grade and high school setting, having both boys and
girls at the grade school level and only girls at the high school. Boys were admitted until 1933 when the grade school
went girls' only after that, and then it was closed in the spring of 1947.
Marywood added onto the existing building with a gymnasium that included a pool in 1922 and added another
four-story wing in 1925 at a cost of $250,000.00 that housed classrooms, a cafeteria, dining rooms, music studios, and dormitories.
During the time that Marywood was open, a special emphasis was placed on college prep courses, and it showed as more than
80 percent of its students went onto college.
The school's enrollment peaked at 531 in 1964-65, but within five years, the Providence nuns were petitioning
Cardinal John Cody of the Archdiocese of Chicago to close the school after a total of just 50 eighth graders showed interest
in enrolling as freshmen in the fall of 1970. Even though the Cardinal was against the sudden decision to close the school
and wanted it to stay open for those underclassmen who wished to graduate, the Providence order did not budge from their stance,
closing the school following the final graduation of 110 students in the spring of 1970.
The nuns stated that the reasons they closed the school were because of declining enrollment, a shortage
of religious teaching personnel, and inadequate revenues. The Marywood building remains standing today as home of
the governmental offices and civic center for the city of Evanston, although the community has been planning to build
a new facility due to the deteriorating condition of the building, which gained National Landmark Status in 2006.