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History of the Church of St. Mary

The Church of St. Mary began as a mission in a little log church built in western Lake Forest in 1844. By 1875, a small group of about thirty families from Lake Forest and Lake Bluff formed the new parish of St. Mary's. A white frame church was built at the corner of Illinois and Green Bay Roads, where our current church stands. In 1908, the original church was declared in danger of collapse. It was demolished and replaced by the current church.

As the parish grew in the early 20th century, buildings were added to the campus. The original rectory was built next to the church in 1878. The original school, now the Junior High building and home to the science, math and art labs, was dedicated in 1917. The present school and gym were opened in 1958. The convent, currently the Parish Center, was opened in 1950.

Families continued to move into Lake Forest throughout the century. Many homes had been built by 1929. In the early 1930's, during the Great Depression era, some families doubled up their homes, but few moved from the area. After World War II, more families moved to the northern suburbs. The building boom of the 1950's and '60's attracted many people to the area, including young families who enrolled their children in the School of St. Mary.

Our parish continues to grow and, as our needs expand, so do our facilities. The Learning Center addition to the school in 2007 has provided new opportunities for our students. We continue to provide for the needs of all of our parishioners with many educational and spiritually-enriching opportunities.