The History of Mundelein Center

Formerly Mundelein College, the recently restored 80-year-old building is sometimes referred to as the ‘skyscraper building’ is on the National Register of Historical places. Mundelein College was founded as an all-women’s college in 1930 by the Sisters of the Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and 60 years later the college joined Loyola University Chicago. Mundelein was the first self-contained skyscraper college for women in the world and the last four-year women’s college in Illinois at the time of its affiliation with Loyola.

Within Mundelein is a large auditorium, classrooms, and meeting spaces. Stained-glass windows and Art Deco chandeliers and finishes adorn the interior of the Mundelein Auditorium. This venue also boasts a courtyard complete with a garden and fountain for cocktail receptions. Additionally there are fully electronic modern classrooms for breakout sessions.

Check out the history of this beautiful building!

December 13, 1928: “Catholics Will Build College for Women Near Loyola Campus” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 1928). Sister Mary Tertulla announces plans of the Sisters of the Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary to build Mundelein Center.

November 1, 1929: Groundbreaking ceremony for Mundelein Center.Sister Mary Justitia Coffey and Mother Mary Isabella Kane presided over the ceremony.

June 3, 1931: “Cardinal Dedicates Mundelein College Before Large Crowd” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 1931). Dedication ceremony held for Mundelein Center.

September 1931: “POPE PRAISES GREAT CATHOLIC COLLEGE HERE” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 1931). “‘I don’t know that it is the greatest college in the world, but I am sure it is the one nearest heaven.’ -PIUS XI…”

March 1932: “And Now College Girls Learn to Broadcast” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 1932). Catherine Gould Roche, daytime studio director at WGN, led a radio broadcasting class offered through the drama department at Mundelein College. The course was said to be the first of its kind in Chicago.

September 1937: “Girl Enters College at 13” (New York Times 1937). Joanna Xenos was the youngest student ever to register for classes at Mundelein College. Xenos majored in Chemistry.

June 1938: “THIS IS A DIZZY WORLD-HERE IS POSITIVE PROOF” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 1938). Physics students from Mundelein College suspended a 120 foot pendulum in an unused elevator shaft to prove that the earth rotates on its axis. The pendulum was the longest of its kind in existence.

February 1947: “MUNDELEIN COLLEGE TO GIVE PLAY BASED ON WIFE OF LINCOLN” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 1947). The Mundelein College drama department presented “Storm,” by Edith Mirick. The play was about the life of Mary Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s wife.

August 1954: “Petee Wings It Home on Nail Polish” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 1954). Sister Mary Anna Ruth of Mundelein College returns parakeet to its rightful owner after the bird flew into the 14th floor window of the college’s skyscraper building. Sister Ruth identified the bird by a small amount of nail polish on the bird’s wing.

September 1955: “JUBILEE EVENT TO FETE START OF MUNDELEIN” (Chicago Daily Tribune, 1955). The silver jubilee of the opening of Mundelein College was held at the Conrad Hilton hotel. The Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary were honored for their contribution to the founding of the school.

1960’s: Mundelein became the largest Catholic women’s college in the United States.

1965: A degree completion program is created for women, becoming the second program of its kind in the United States.

1969: First master’s program is created. The Graduate Program in Religious Studies became the first master’s program taught completely by women Ph.Ds.

1966: A movie adaption of the book, “Life with Mother Superior” by alumna Jane Trahey is released. The move, “The Trouble with Angels,” was based on Trahey’s experiences at Mundelein College.

1972: The Hispanic Institute is founded at Mundelein College. The program was designed to assist person working in Spanish-speaking communities. The formation of The Hispanic Institute led to the creation of a program to train bilingual teachers.

1984: The Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies is created to provide opportunities for students. The program was designed to cater to the needs of working adults and became the largest program of its kind in Chicago. At this time, the Graduate Program in Religious Studies gained recognition for ministry within the Church.

1991: Mundelein College becomes part of Loyola University Chicago. The Spirit of Mundelein College is present in the Ann Ida Gannon, BVM, and Center for Women and Leadership.

Mid-1990’s: Mundelein Center undergoes exterior renovation costing approximately $8,000,000.


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