The History of Chicago St. Michael High School
Chicago (population: 2.8 million) is the nation's third largest city that grew quickly
within its first 100 years. From it's founding in 1803 and even still today, the city possesses an eclectic feel with
its numerous cultures and history that distinguishes the community from others world-wide. Even after a great fire in
1871, Chicago pulled itself up by its bootstraps and rebuilt itself, then annexed other smaller communities such as Hyde Park,
Englewood, Lake, and many others.
One of the schools that gave the city its distinctive feel was St. Michael's High School,
which was opened in 1929 as a co-educational, two-year commerical school on the city's South
Side at the corner of 83rd and South Shore Drive in the South Chicago neighborhood. Forty-seven students and four nuns from
the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth were involved at the beginning of the first school year, thanks to the backing
of the parish priest, Rev. John M. Lange, Ph. D.
Over time, the school became an all-girls' high school in 1937, offering a four-year college
prep course in the former parish grade school that served a portion of Chicago's Polish community. The enrollment topped out
at 270 during the mid-1950's/early-1960's but fell to 160 during the final school year, 1967-68.
One of the factors that helped decide to close the school was that more and more African-Americans as
well as Hispanic families moved into the neighborhood, replacing the Polish who had been there exclusively for years. The
small size of the school and decline in enrollment were also reasons as to why the Archdiocese of Chicago closed the school
and transferred students to neighboring schools.
Following the June 1968 graduation, the St. Michael's building was torn down in December of 1969
(see photo above).