The History of Chicago Mercy Mission 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.
Another thing that separated this Midwestern community was the diversity of education that was abundant
during the latter part of the 19th Century. One of those schools that stood out was Mercy Mission, which
opened its doors in 1887 near the Board of Trade in temporary quarters on LaSalle Street around the downtown district.
The school was started as a home for homeless boys called St. Paul's Home for Working Boys by the Rev. Louis
Campbell, but later changed its name to the Mission of Our Lady of Mercy when incorporation papers were filed the same year.
Mercy Mission moved to 1140 West Jackson Boulevard in 1889 when Rev. Dennis Mahoney stepped in due to illness to Rev.
Campbell and presented a down payment to purchase a home for the school.
Mercy Mission took in at-risk boys between the ages of 11-21 and gave them structure from family life
that was full of chaos and dysfunctionality, plus offered them education to get ahead in the world with other males.
High school classes were no longer offered after the 1981-82 school year, but Mercy Mission remains open as
a home today for both boys and girls (which were added in 1987) that need personalized attention to find hope
and a new way of life. According to this author, it is believed that the high school-aged students still live at Mercy
Mission but attend high schools in Chicago.