The History of Kankakee St. Joseph's Academy for Ladies
Kankakee (population 27,491) is located in northeastern Illinois in central Kankakee County. It is
the county seat of Kankakee County as well. The town was established in the mid-1800's and prospered when the Illinois
Central Railroad laid tracks through the area. By the year 1900, Kankakee had a population of 13,500, quite large for
that time period. The following roadways now lead to and from this busy metropolis: Interstate Highway 57, U.S.
Route 45, Illinois Routes 17, 50, 102, 113, and 115. The Kankakee River flows through the middle of town. Three railroad
lines also lay tracks which pass through town: The Illinois Central Gulf, the KBSR, and the CR.
Kankakee residents realized very early-on the importance of a good education for their children. The
Roman Catholic religion gained great popularity early on as well. This led to the development of a several grade schools in
Among these was the St. Rose Grammar School established in the 1865. Sixty-six students were enrolled
when the school opened that year. The school outgrew the small frame house where classes first started &
a new three-story school building with room for boarding students along the Kankakee River was ready for occupancy
Within a couple of years, the need for higher learning was also realized. St. Rose Grammar School was
expanded by the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame, who taught there to include a high school for young ladies
in 1875. They named this school the St. Joseph Seminary.
The Seminary served the community in this capacity for several years. At some point, probably in the
early 1900s, the name of the school was changed to the St. Joseph's Academy for Young Ladies. We know from a newpaper
article (The Kankakee Sunday Journal, June 21, 1953) found by Sherree Benoit
that St. Joseph's Academy was still in the education business at that time. Further research by Sherree located the following
"An excerpt from the book "Of the People" by Mary Jean Houde and John Klasey.
of St. Joseph Seminary as a high school ended in its centennial year, 1965, when it merged with the expanded Bishop
Martin D. McNamara
The Academy building has been razed. The St. Rose Catholic Church building on the right side of the
photo at the top of this page, is still an active building and parish.
St. Joseph's Academy for Ladies Quick Facts
Athletics likely not offered