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History of ICSJ


Ten years after the founding of Immaculate Conception Church, Reverend Thaddeus Butler undertook the construction of a grade school in 1869 with the assistance of the Sisters of Saint Dominic from Wisconsin. In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire burned down the church, convent and school. In 1878, construction of a new church and 3-story school was completed. Immaculate Conception School continued to flourish, and by the late 1930’s the girls’ and boys’ basketball teams dominated the league.

After WWII, expanding enrollment mandated a more modern facility. Pastor John Fleming secured $500,000 from the Parish, and the new school building opened its doors in the fall of 1952. For decades, Immaculate Conception was a cornerstone of the Old Town community.  However, the changing neighborhood landscape in later decades resulted in declining enrollment, and Pastor Fr. Dressler was forced to close Immaculate Conception School in 1980.

By the late 1990’s, Immaculate Conception’s pastor, Fr. Pat Lee, had led the revitalization of the parish. With the revival of the neighborhood, Fr. Pat Lee recognized the growing needs of the urban community. "I was interested in re-establishing Immaculate Conception-St. Joseph School for two main reasons: to provide high quality education for our children that was rooted in cooperation rather than fierce competition, and to pass on our Catholic faith and tradition to the young people of the area." Under his leadership and vision, in September 2002, Immaculate Conception School re-opened its doors to 17 smiling prekindergarten and kindergarten children eager to learn and explore.


Over the next few years, enrollment soared, a new grade was added annually, and building expansions were completed. By 2009, the then 305 students began to outgrow the North Park campus. In 2011, the completion of a new 60,000 square foot building, adjacent to the St. Joseph Church, enabled Immaculate Conception to offer a dedicated middle school facility.  The school was renamed, Immaculate Conception – St. Joseph School and now serves nearly 450 students in prekindergarten through grade 8.

Three impressive building projects and fourteen years later, Immaculate Conception St. Joseph School is now one of the largest elementary schools in the Archdiocese serving nearly 450 students. The contemporary facilities span two campuses and our co-principal and co-teaching model are unique in our system. Father Pat Lee’s mission remains the foundation of the school. The precepts of the Catholic Faith continue to serve as the cornerstone of both the academic curriculum and the social and emotional development of the students. The rigorous academics, exceptional faculty and breadth of extracurricular activities have produced some of the brightest and most accomplished 8th Grade graduates in Chicago. Year after year, ICSJ graduates secure admittance into Chicago’s most elite and desired private and public high schools.