The history of St. Joseph School, spanning over three centuries, provides a strong foundation upon which Saints JFX continues to grow. Founded by the German settlers of Wilmette, St. Joseph Church began in 1843 in a little log cabin chapel just north of Lake Avenue and Ridge Road. The parish flourished and the first St. Joseph Parish School was organized in the mid 1850’s by lay teachers. The School joined the Church as a center of Wilmette’s growing social and community scene. In September of 1877, the Sisters of St. Francis came from Milwaukee to staff the School and remained in dedicated service to the community until 1981.
Construction of the current St. Joseph School building began in 1934 under the leadership of Msgr. John Neumann, who was then pastor of St. Joseph Church. The construction project included the Church and a convent attached to the School, and was funded by Parishioners in the midst of the Great Depression. President Roosevelt sent a letter commending the people of St. Joseph’s for their foresight and courage, as these were the only public buildings constructed in the Midwest that year.
The School flourished in the post-war era as the “baby boom” established a strong student population. The School’s reputation for the strong academic and spiritual development of children drew many new families to community. In 1986, the School was forced to shutter its doors temporarily as a result of massive demographic shifts across the area. In 1996, it reopened as a result of a parent-driven campaign, first as a preschool. After a renovation to the School’s building was completed in 1998, the School opened to serve children from Preschool through eighth grade. Today, St. Joseph draws on a rich tradition of excellence in Early Childhood to field vibrant and stimulating programs tailored to the needs of 2-Year-Old, 3-Year-Old and Jr Kindergarten students in half- and full-day settings.