Fenwick High School expanding to former Dominican University campus

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Fenwick High School in Oak Park will soon add 18 acres in River Forest to its facilities, under agreements to purchase Dominican University’s Priory Campus, 7200 W. Division St., and 11 acres of adjoining athletic fields that belong to the Dominican Province of St. Albert the Great.

Fenwick, which is sponsored by the Dominican province, has used the athletic fields for years under long-term lease agreements, said Dominican Father Richard Peddicord, Fenwick’s president.

“Basically, that property and Fenwick have been identified as one and the same for close to 100 years,” Peddicord said, noting that the high school campus at 505 Washington Blvd. is completely landlocked. “The province realized that without the fields, it’s more or less pulling the plug on Fenwick as a viable high school.”

Dominican University, 7900 W. Division St., River Forest, purchased the Priory Campus, roughly a mile east of its main campus, from the Dominican Province in 2002, and was using it to house several programs. But a move toward more remote education — especially for graduate students and adult learners — meant the facilities were being underutilized, said Dominican University President Glena Temple. It made more sense for the university to concentrate its resources on the main campus, which is able to accommodate most of the programs that were housed there.

The Goedert Center for Early Childhood Education, a preschool for children of Dominican students, faculty, staff and community members, will remain on the Priory Campus for now under a multi-year lease.

Peddicord said Fenwick wanted the property both because it divides the athletic fields the school is buying from the Dominican province, and because it is the site of the Dominican House of Studies built in 1939 and modeled after the castle that belonged to St. Thomas Aquinas’ family.

While Fenwick has not determined exactly how the building will be used, the school intends to keep it, Peddicord said.

“The chapel there is simply a jewel and it’s much larger than anything we have on the Fenwick campus” about 2.5 miles away, Peddicord said. “We have some ideas about how to use it.”

Fenwick, Dominican University and Trinity High School, which, like the university, is sponsored by the Sinsinawa Dominican sisters, are working to find more ways to collaborate with one another.

“In this day and age, all Catholic institutions are better when they’re working with other Catholic institutions,” he said.

Temple concurred, saying the schools could collaborate on academics, athletics, spiritual formation or other areas.

Barring obstacles, the sale of the two parcels of property could be completed in the spring.


  • dominican univeristy
  • fenwick high school

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