Thursday, November 3, 2011

Those Places Thursday: St. Margaret Mary, Chicago, Illinois

Dad's first grade class at St. Margaret Mary in Chicago, 1935.  Dad is kneeling right in front of the nun.
The prompt for Week 44 of 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History is Elementary School.  I'm going to continue the theme and talk about the schools my father Fred Pape attended for kindergarten through eighth grades.

Describe your grammar/elementary school (or schools). Were they big or small? Are any of these schools still in existence today? If so, how have they changed since you went there?

As mentioned in yesterday's post, Dad went to St. Scholastica for kindergarten.  However, he attended St. Margaret Mary in Chicago for first through eighth grades.  He started in September 1934 (at age 5) and graduated in June 1942 (at age 13).

A few weeks ago, my cousin Terrie and her daughter Lisa checked out the house our dads and their siblings grew up in, and they also visited St. Margaret Mary. These photos are courtesy of Terrie and Lisa.

Terrie wrote, "At the school [pictured above] they were setting up for a school fair and we met a man named Jim Sampson whose dad would have probably been in Dad's [Uncle Bob's] class as they were the same age. His uncle was Conrad Camp & also went there, as did the son (who we spoke with) and his kids. He also told me a story of a bear named Chip back then."  Dad wrote,
In the picture of the west side of the school you can almost see the northwest corner. It is partly hidden by the side of the tree. On the backside of that corner was the bear cage of Chip. He was in a strong steel cage, with a high steel fence about 5 or 6 feet in front of the cage. The bear was found as a cub in the Northwoods of Wisconsin by then-pastor & founder, Reverend Father George McCarthy.

The school has three levels, as you can see, because when this building was completed, there was no separate church building, so the church was on the second level for many years until the new separate [church] building about 1938. In the top right of the picture you can see the roof, which still has Spanish tile like we had on the 2093 Lunt house.

The church looks about the same from what I can see in the pictures. Bette, Moe, Bebe [my aunts' nicknames] and I were all baptized in the first church in the now all-school building. Amanda [that's me] was baptized in the present church.

(The photo above is of the exterior of St. Margaret Mary Church; below is the interior.)

© Amanda Pape - 2011 - click here to e-mail me.


  1. Wow - I can't believe this Catholic school had its own resident bear!

    Thanks again for sharing another story with us for the Doors of Faith celebration at The Catholic Gene.

    1. Thanks Lisa! Everyone should check out the outstanding Doors of Faith compilation post Lisa put together!

  2. I attended St Margaret Mary from '62 thru '71 (K-8). We were the last Kindergardeners from the basement. I've always hear a story about a bear living on the grounds, but I didn't think it was true.
    Nice pics.

    1. The bear story is one I don't think my dad is making up! :) Thank you for commenting!

  3. My Dad attended St. Margaret Mary's at that time. He would have been 6 or 7 in 1935. I wonder if he is in that picture.

    1. If you use the e-mail link near the top of the page (the picture of the envelope that says "click here to e-mail me") and send your dad's name, I will ask my Dad when I see him this coming Thursday!