|Former St. Michael's Central H.S. Building
|Photo by Cody Cutter (Feb. 2009)
History of Chicago St. Michael Central High School
Chicago (population: 2.8 million) is located along the shores of Lake Michigan
in northeastern Illinois. From its early days as a Potawatomie settlement, then as the site of Fort Dearborn in 1803, which
led up to the formation of the city and its incorporation in 1833 and 1837, respectively, the "City of Big Shoulders" became
a major location in the US for various reasons. Railroads and water transportation were two reasons why Chicago was one of
the fastest growing cities in the country during the 19th Century.
Today, numerous railroads and highways of interstate, US, state, and local designations bring people
together in the city on a daily basis, as does air traffic at O'Hare and Midway Airports. Chicago is a melting pot of people
from many nationalities, making it ethnically diverse, and thus, is referred to as "the cultural, economic, and financial
capital of the Midwest" (according to Wikipedia).
St. Michael's Central High School, located in the Old
Town section of Chicago at North and Hudson Avenues (near Wells Street), was opened as a two-year, co-institutional parish
school with a commercial program in 1887. Instead of being a co-educational school (with boys and girls attending classes
together), each gender was educated at separate ends of the building. The boys were under the direction of the Brothers of
Mary, and the girls were taught by the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
The educational focus changed from commercial to academic in 1923, by
which time there were four years of classes for boys (which started in 1919), and the girls section became four years in 1924.
A new building was also opened in 1928, which coincided with the designation of being a central high school for Catholic students
on the north side of the Chicago River, just west of Lincoln Park.
St. Michael Central's enrollment was steady during the 1950's and 1960's,
reaching 754 in 1967, but it dwindled to 575 by 1973, which may have the reason that the school became co-ed in the fall of
1976. It was not enough to save the school, due to the increasing operating expenses that mounted and the deteriorating condition
of the building, and St. Michael Central closed its doors in the spring of 1978 after having 468 students attend class there.
The school gym was torn down some time later, but the majority of the
school was renovated and became the home of luxury condominiums inside the Old Town Triangle, which has received both city
and National Landmark Status. There is a street just west of Hudson and north of North Avenue that is called St. Michaels
Court that pays tribute to the fact that the school existed nearby.
A more extensive history of the St. Michael's school was sent to us by
"St Michael Central High School, 1640 - 48 North Hudson,
was associated with St. Michael’s Church http://www.st-mikes.org/, 1633 N. Cleveland St., Chicago IL 60614. The church was built
in 1866-69, burned in the Chicago Fire, and rebuilt in 1872-73. The Redemptorists Fathers operate the church.
Catholic schools were very important to Chicago because they were usually staffed
by teaching orders with national and international associations. The School Sisters of Notre Dame arrived at St. Michael's
in 1862 and the Brothers of Mary (Society of Mary) in 1874 to work in the church and schools. The Society of Mary in the 50’s
had two US provinces with 953 brothers\priest teaching 21,557 students.
The high school began as a 2-year commercial school but expanded to a general four-year
high school in 1923 with approximately 60 students. A new school was built in 1928 to accommodate around 800 students. The
building was three stories high, 340 x 123 feet with 47 rooms including 31 class rooms, offices, science labs, band room,
cafeteria, a four-lane bowling alley and a gym with seating for 600. The cost when built was ½ million dollars. In 1959, the
school enrollment of 709 students was probably average and the graduation rate ranged between 141 and 179 between 1953-59.
The North half of the school was for the girls and the South half for the boys. The
band, cafeteria, science labs, gym and bowling alley were used by both boys and girls, usually at different times. Even the
start/finish times were different for the two groups.
The two groups first combined in band in 1933, the senior play in 1927, the school
Operetta in 1953. The two groups worked with parallel staffs on the school newspaper, the Central News. There was
no yearbook but the May edition of the newspaper covered graduation and four years of the paper were bound together and given
This was a Catholic school, the girls wore uniforms and the boys slacks and a shirts
with collars. Students took religious classes, attended annual retreats and were encouraged to attend mass and join religious
Academically, the school offered general (college) and commercial tracks. Activities
included - bowling, glee club/choral, band for both sides. The boys side offered camera club, baseball, softball, basketball
and several other sports intermittently. The school belonged to the Parish League and the varsity teams were named the Warriors
and the junior teams the Ponies/Lights. The school colors were blue and gold.
The girls had cheerleading, swimming, horse back riding."
It has been reported that an annual alumni gathering takes place for St.
Michael's takes place around the first or second Sunday in October to reminisce and pay tribute to their alma mater.
For more information on St. Michael Central High School check out www.friendsofstmichaels.ning.com, a website created by Lisa Booker, dedicated to the memory of St. Michael Central High School!
|St. Michael's Central High School postcard
|Courtesy of www.teicharchives.org
FACTS ABOUT CHICAGO ST. MICHAEL CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL
Year opened: 1887
Offered 4-yr course to boys:
Switched focus to academic courses: 1923
Offered 4-yr course to girls:
Opened new building:
Year school went to co-ed:
Blue & Gold
"St. Michael's High"
Submitted by Margaret Hemma, Class of 1968
Written by Sister Mary Gordon
To St. Michael's High we're loyal and true
Ready the cheer the gold and the blue
Just give us a job and we'll see it through
Victory, St. Michael's High!
Side by side we're marching to win
united now let's begin
No matter the foe, we'll never give in
Victory, St. Michael's High!
Coach Jim Roberts led Warrior boys basketball program in the middle 1970s. The
boys of this era were one of the best in Illinois' Class 'A' basketball. Coach Roberts has supplied us with information
on this and photos of teams from 1977 which include boys soccer, girls volleyball, and cheerleading. We are searching
for season records of these and other St. Michael Central teams.
The hey-day of St. Michael basketball was between the 1973-74 through the
1976-77 seasons coached by Jim Roberts. The Warriors won the Independent League championship in
both the 75-76 and 76-77 seasons. Jasper McElroy was a first team All-Stater in 76-77 and third team
Catholic All-American. John Owens played in the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association All-Star Game
in 1977. Coach Jim Roberts was the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year for District IV (Chicago) all four seasons.
If you have any further information regarding the St. Michael basketball program, please forward it
1973-74 17 - 7
Coach Jim Roberts
|St. Michael Senior Leaders 1973-74
|(front to back) Gerald Dunn, Monroe Holcomb, and Ernie Taylor
1974-75 19 - 5
Coach Jim Roberts
Team members as viewed in the photo below to the left include:
Front row: Tony Smith, Ken Meaders, David Wekerle, Darnell
O'Neal, Derrick Gavin
Back row: Keith Pearson, Greg Stingley, Randy Holcomb,
John Owens, Earl Dunn, Dale Porter
|The Final Game of 1974-75
|Submitted by Coach Jim Roberts
|St. Michaels HS Basketball 1974-75
|Submitted by Coach Jim Roberts
1975-76 23 - 3
Independent League Champions Coach Jim Roberts
Members of this team shown in the photo of the award winners below include:
L to R : Coach Roberts, Randy Holcomb, Keith Pearson,
Greg Stingley, Darnell O'Neal, Dale Porter, and Brother Ed Johnson the Principal
# 52 Keith Pearson 75-76 All Conference, Ave 18.5 PPG and 21.3
# 54 Dale Porter 75-76 All-Conference team
|Basketball Award Winners from 1975-76
|Submitted by Jim Roberts
1976-77 25 - 2 Independent League
Champions Coach Jim Roberts
During the final two years of operation, this writer remembers St. Michael having an excellent boys'
basketball program, finishing at the top of the state's Associated Press Class A poll with a mark of 23-1 in 1977, however
losing in the regional finals to Walther Lutheran in a bizarre manner to finish the season. Led by all-stater
Jasper McElroy (who would later play at Western Michigan and professionally in Ireland), St. Michael's was
involved in a regional championship game that was so controversial that the second half of the game was ordered to be
replayed in order to send the winner to the Somonauk Class A Sectional.
The names of the members of the team that won that Havana Tournament that is pictured below to the
left are as follows:
Row 1: Rodger Crawford, Earl Dunn, DeReginald Cain, John
Row 2: Ray Villarubia, Vernon Canon
Row 3: George
Reese, Martel McCoy, Jasper McElroy, Derrick Thomas,
Williams, Maryellen Roberts, Coach Jim Roberts
(#12 Earl Dunn 75-76 and 76-77 All-Conference)
|Coach Roberts with St. Michael's Alumni Players
|Darnell O'Neal, Dale Porter, Coach Roberts, Earl Dunn, John Owens. Photo Taken in 2009
|Team of 1976-77 - Havana HS Tourney Champs
|Ranked #1 in IHSA Class 'A' Basketball (left click on photo for enlarged version)
|St. Michael Fresh-Soph Basketball Team 1976-77
|Left Click on Photo for Enlarged Version
The Lady Warriors competed in volleyball. This photo is of the school's final team, the 1976-77 netters.
If you have any further information regarding this program, please send it to us.
|Lady Warrior Voleyball Team of 1976-77
|Submitted by Jim Roberts
The boys also competed in soccer. Any information regarding this sport in the history of St. Michaels
|Warrior Soccer Team - 1976-77
|Submitted by Jim Roberts
While it was open, St. Michael's Central offered activities to its students in order to serve their needs
in reaching their potential as students. We do know that they offered rowing as well as boys' basketball, but the IHSA website
shows that the school did not win any hardware while it was a member of the IHSA.
IHSA Historian Robert Pruter wrote an article on the history of rowing in Illinois and
noted that St. Michael had an team that competed for the city title several times in the late-1940's and winning the Senior
Eights title in 1948. The school later dropped the sport by 1960. More about rowing can be found at: http://www.ihsa.org/initiatives/hstoric/rowing.htm.
|St. Michaels Pom Pon Squad 1976-77
|Left Click on Photo for Enlarged Version
|St. Michael Cheerleaders 1976-77
|Left Click on Photo for Enlarged View
|Chicago St. michael's Spirit of '72 Monogram
|Submitted by Keith
I graduated from St. Mike’s in 1972. Our
coach from 1968-1972 was Mr. Fred O’Connor. Mr. O’Connor also taught health on the boy’s side. Thank you.
From Mike Skowronski:
I am a St. Michael Central High School Graduate of 1973 and stumbled upon
your site last night.....and had a blast for a couple of hours of great
fun reading various things on your site. Thanks for that!
I've got a bunch of stuff that you can hopefully scan.
1972....1973......and then after graduation I helped out coaching the
basketball teams for a few years while in college....assisting Jim Roberts during those couple of years that he had some great teams. I
was excited to see a few
things that Jim shared on the website....some pics that even I never saw.
Was wondering....do you have a contact for Jim? Haven't seem him since
maybe 1979 or so when he was the head coach at Centralia High and would
like to get in touch with him.
Seeking a Photo of St. Michael's Central High School
From Glenn Shipley:
I am a 1956 graduate of St. Michael CHS and I am looking for a photograph of the school building from the
outside from around that time. Would you have one or do you know where I might find one? Thanks! If you do
have one, please contact the Glory Days staff and we will pass this information on to Glenn.
From Jim McCoy (class of 1966)...
"My name is Jim McCoy. I was just looking at your website. I don't even know what made me do a search today.
But, boy am I glad I did.
"I attended St. Michael Central High School from 1962-1966. I played on the St. Michael Warriors in all
four years I attended. In 1965, we had a team that was undefeated in the Parish League all the way to the last game of
the season. Unfortunately, we then lost to St. Benedict High School of the Parish League on the last day of the regular
season. If I remember correctly, we lost that game by only one or two points.
"We then had to play them again for the Parish League championship. I don't know what the boys at St.
Benedict's were eating the week before the game. But, when they hit the floor, they were a totally different team. So
were we, but not in a good way. Benedict's trounced us in the final game. I think they ended up beating us by 30
points That is not a good memory. But, the season we had was a tremendous one.
"I was a co-captain on the 1965
team. We had a captain for each the Juniors and the Seniors. I'll never forget the pre-season game we played against
what was known as Waller High in those days (Lincoln Park High now). Coach kept our two big guys in the locker room during warm-ups. While we
were doing our lay-ups, I was standing at center court in our gym with one of the players from Waller. He was looking
at our squad and said to me that he couldn't believe that with the short team we had, that we were undefeated.
"Then Ken Ciuckowski (spelling ?) and Frank Keller emerged from the locker room. Kenny was 6' 5 and Frank
was 6'4. That was mighty tall for those days. Not only were they tall, but they were great ball players. So was our point
guard, Bill Considine. We went on to beat Waller by around 20 points. We were also undefeated for all of the pre-season
"The only other game we lost before the St. Benedict losses was in the championship game of the Christmas
Tournament which was held at Roosevelt that year. We beat St. Benedict in the semis and then lost to Mount Carmel of the Catholic
League in the finals. Mount Carmel went on to win the city championship that year. During the pre-season, we also defeated
the likes of Gordon Tech, DePaul, Lane Tech and Hales Franciscan.
"Our graduating class consisted of only around
85 or so combined boys and girls. As an aside note, many of those boys and girls ended up married to one another. Some
are still married, most are not. The Principal was Brother Dunne and the basketball coach was Brother A. J. Brother A.J.
had also coached at Collinsville earlier in his coaching career. The only teachers I can remember were Mr. Bill White
(English), Mr. Norris (Chemistry) and Father Sheridan (Religion)."
**From Terry Schaub:
"Hello, I live
in St Louis, MO. I am trying to help a friend of mine locate JEFFREY SCHRANK English teacher circa 1966-1971 (who went to
college with Terry's friend). I saw an item on the internet that a Lisa Booker connected with some type of annual reunion,
but reunion web under construction..(the Illinois High School Glory Days site) also listed on school writeup, not sure how
you could help me but I seek your input. I wonder if any yearbooks might show his middle initial or if he attended any reunion
in recent history."
From Jim Esposito (Post) (class of 1961)
"I graduated from St. Mike's in 1961. Not a super
lot to share at the moment except your readers might enjoy knowing that Dennis Farina, the film star and dear friend of mine,
graduated in 1962. He went on to the Chicago Police Department and then on to a long and prosperous film acting career. He
passed away (in August 2013) at the age of 69. He is missed by all who knew him.
PS: Brother Sohm was
principal during my tenure. I'll never forget him.
From Luciano Miceli:
"My name is Lucio Miceli. I came from Italy (and) lived at boys' home Mission
of Lady of Mercy (at) 1140 W. Jackson. I attended St. Michael 1969 to May 1972. I could say I do remember
Coach Connor, "the Duke," Brother Johnson, and McFeely Otto.
I remember going with school trip (in) the month of May 1972, we went to San Antonio, Texas. (It was) a long bus drive
where I got in trouble, and then I did not get my diploma because I left the Home Mission of Lady of Mercy an all-boys'
home for trouble boys (accept me, I was an angel). Anyway, should someone remember an Italian boy who hardly spoke English
to contact me at email@example.com, any pictures would help."
WE'RE LOOKING FOR MORE INFORMATION...
about the history of St. Michael's Central High School in Chicago. Sports information (win-loss records,
coaches' names, all-staters), additional photos of the school or activities would be great. Memories are also welcome!
Just contact us:
by USPS: Illinois High School Glory Days