St. Mary Academy, Monroe, Mich. (1846 – 1988)
St. Mary Academy was established just two months after the IHM congregation was founded. It was a school for girls that grew into an elementary and high school, and for most of its history, it was a well-respected boarding school.
Because of the financial difficulties faced by parochial schools throughout Michigan, St. Mary Academy closed the grade school in 1970. As the number of boarders declined through the ’70s and ’80s, the IHM Sisters made the difficult decision to close the resident program in 1983.
Unfortunately, the number of day students also declined. In order to have a Catholic high school for young women, it was necessary to merge St. Mary Academy with Monroe Catholic Central, an all boys’ school. This happened in 1988, and the school became known as St. Mary Catholic Central High School.
Hall of the Divine Child, Monroe, Mich. (1918 – 1980)
Hall of the Divine Child was opened in 1918 as an elementary school for boys, both resident and day students.
The school eventually became a military school in 1936. The regulation drill uniform was adopted in 1938; the complete uniform became a school requirement in 1941, with the boys marching through the halls in full uniform to classes, meals and other events. Peak enrollment stood at 350 in the mid-1950s.
Gradually, though, enrollment declined and operational costs increased significantly. The school closed in 1980. The building was converted to an apartment complex for older adults and is known as “Norman Towers.”
Marygrove College ((1927-2019)
In March 1922, for $241,000, Mother Domitilla purchased an 80-acre wooded tract in a developing area of northwest Detroit for the new St. Mary College. The purchase price of the land, however, exhausted the money that had been set aside to build the new campus in Monroe, so the congregation launched a Building Campaign Fund in 1923, culminating in a week-long Marygrove Festival at the Arena Gardens in Detroit.
With the help of the St. Mary Alumnae Association, Michigan parishes, graduates of IHM schools and Detroit business leaders, the festival raised $101,000, but the total campaign fund could not match the cost of the new buildings. With deep faith and courageous spirit, Mother Domitilla and her governing council indebted the IHM congregation for the $4 million necessary to build and equip the college. The gates of the Marygrove College campus opened in September 1927, welcoming 287 students.
The educational landscape changed drastically in the state of Michigan as elsewhere in the nation. The high school population dwindled such that all colleges and universities were competing for the same smaller number of students. Financial woes persisted from the mid-2000s through 2019, which forced the College to close its undergraduate programs at the end of 2017 and its graduate programs at the end of 2019.
Immaculata High School, Detroit (1941 – 1983)
Immaculata was opened with 529 students in the four classes. With Sister Anna Marie Grix as first principal and many excellent faculty members, students soon realized that they would need to do some serious studying to keep up with the demands of the faculty.
The results were well worth the effort though: Students and staff were very proud of the fact that almost all graduates went on to higher education. (They also were amazed that they found college or university was quite easy after the rigorous demands at IHS!)
With a declining enrollment through the 1970s and early ’80s, the school could not survive and was closed in 1983.
Immaculate Heart of Mary High School, Westchester, Ill. (1960 – 2005)
Immaculate Heart of Mary High School was built to serve 1,200 girls; it opened with 314 freshmen. At one point, IHM High School boasted nearly 1,400 students and 42 sisters, but that tapered off in the early 1970s – to a more manageable 1,000 or so.
IHM High School provided an extraordinary education, both academically and socially. Students participated in fundraising activities that helped the school community, such as establishing a scholarship fund, and contributed to national and global projects. Sadly, after 45 years of educating young women in the Chicago area, IHM High School closed at the end of the 2004-05 academic year after extensive efforts to boost enrollment and to collaborate with neighboring St. Joseph High School in a co-institutional project proved unsuccessful.
In 2023, West40 Intermediate Service Center purchased the property in its plan to produce a state-of-the-art learning facility campus and be a good community neighbor. The legacy-rich high school was the ideal choice for West40 to serve students, build strong community connections and support Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s commitment to providing educational services to youth in need. “It’s so exciting to be part of a spotlight program that will change the trajectory of how we serve the most vulnerable youth,” said West40 Executive Director Dr. Mark Klaisner. “We look forward to the opportunity to be a model for the state and possibly the country. The school could be up and running as early as March 2024. The renovation and future operating costs will be fully state-funded.
IHM High School deeply touched the lives of thousands of students and their parents, as well as faculty and staff. While the closing was a source of great sorrow, its rich legacy continues to be a cause for gratitude and pride.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Middle School for Girls, Detroit (2001 – 2009)
With grades six through eight, this school in southwest Detroit sought to challenge girls who had the promise to become leaders in their communities. OLG was a collaborative project of four communities of religious women with a long tradition of educating girls and young women: Religious Sisters of Mercy, Regional Community of Detroit, Sisters of St. Joseph of Nazareth, Religious of the Sacred Heart, and by the collaboration of other women religious and lay women.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Middle School’s mission was to prepare girls for life in a learning environment that supports them in their personal, social, moral, and intellectual development, and positioned them to be successful in high school and beyond. With declining enrollment and increasing expenses, the school closed in 2009.