The History of Lewis Holy Name Institute
Lockport (population: 22,161) is located in Will County in northeastern Illinois, about
35 miles southwest of Chicago and five miles north of the county seat, Joliet. The community was founded in 1838 as the Illinois
and Michigan Canal began to be built and its incorporation took place in 1853. Lockport has taken a great, painstaking
effort to preserve the canal and the history of the area, which was a vital link to connecting the Great Lakes to the Mississippi
River. Illinois Routes 7, 53, and 171 run thru the community, as does rail service on Metra, Illinois Central, and Burlington
Northern/Santa Fe to Chicago for those who work in the big city, and the Des Plaines River runs thru Lockport.
Holy Name Institute was opened in 1932 by the Archdiocese of Chicago, under the direction
of Cardinal George Mundelein, for disadvantaged eighth grade boys who were entering high school. When it
opened, 15 boys were enrolled with the tuition being waived, thanks in part to donations made to the Holy Name Society,
which were matched by Chicago philanthropist and industrialist Frank J. Lewis.
The grounds of the school (160 acres) were donated by Michael & Frances Fitzpatrick,
who lived across the road (which was then called US 66) from the school. Bishop Bernard J. Sheil was administrator
of Holy Name when it opened.
Similar to one of the other schools that is listed on this website, the school could be considered one that
had many names. After opening as Holy Name Institute, the name changed in 1934 to Lewis Holy Name Technical Institute
to honor Frank Lewis for his generosity to fund the school, then another change a year later (Lewis Holy Name School
of Aeronautics) to show the importance of offering courses in air travel as the school continued to grow towards
becoming a four-year high school for boys.
However, in 1936, the school was shuttered for a year before Lewis came thru again with the funds to needed
to reopen the institution. This time, the school was renamed Lewis Institute and an airport was built by
students and faculty. The school remained opened until 1942 when the US Navy shut down the facility to use it as a flight
school for its pilots. Among the 1,200 students that attended was actor Robert Taylor, a leading man in films
during the late 1940's and early '50's.
When Lewis reopened in 1944, the high school only offered class work for juniors and seniors only,
with a two-year junior college to follow. After the war and with many soldiers taking advantage
of the GI Bill to attend college, the school stopped offering high school courses after 1948 and became a four-year college,
which it remains today as Lewis University.