History of Mallinckrodt

After the Sisters of Christian Charity purchased the land in 1912, groundbreaking for their new motherhouse began in 1913.  The sisters arrived in Wilmette in 1916, they set to work landscaping the grounds. The property was low-lying and had to be filled in with soil. One of the local farmers was hired to “tame” the wild land and plant a vegetable garden as well as an orchard of apple, cherry, and pear trees. The sisters grew sweet corn, tomatoes, string beans, peas and cabbage. The sisters also raised chickens. Eggs were always available and there were occasional chicken dinners. Gravel footpaths were laid to help create a place for relaxation and contemplation.

Women who were interested in the order would stand at the gate. If they were accepted, they would live at the Mallinckrodt for three years while receiving a religious and college education. In 1918, the State of Illinois granted the sisters a charter to operate Mallinckrodt College as a two-year school for teacher training. In the beginning only sisters attended the college. Classes were held in the south wing of the building.

Encouraged by Archbishop Mundelein, in 1923, the sisters opened Mallinckrodt High School for 200 North Shore girls. The classes were held primarily on the first and second floor of the north wing. In 1960 after 37 years the high school closed when the Dominican sisters opened Regina Dominican High School in Wilmette.

In 1972 the sisters sold 11 acres of their land to a Lincolnshire developer. He built 43 homes on the land just west of the current property. At the time a referendum on whether or not the Park District should buy the land failed.

Mallinckrodt College of the North Shore opened in 1968 to include 300 lay students. In 1982 the college became a four-year school. In 1991 Mallinckrodt College merged with Loyola University of Chicago, and Mallinckrodt College officially closed. Loyola University leased space on the property for the School for Education and other functions. The lease included an option to purchase the property no later than mid-1999. Loyola exercised its option and the sale took place in 1999. With the sale of the motherhouse, all sisters moved to Sacred Heart Convent on Elmwood Avenue that was built in 1937 as an infirmary for ailing sisters.

At the end of 2001 a group of citizens demanded the Park District purchase the Mallinckrodt College site that Loyola University was already under contract to sell to a developer for single family homes. Open land advocates, historic building preservationists, and proponents of senior/affordable housing banded together to pass a referendum. In September, 2002, the Wilmette Park District purchased the Mallinckrodt property for $20 million. In July of 2004, a sales agreement was reached transferring ownership of the building to a developer who planned to convert the building into condos for seniors. As part of the agreement, the Park District retained about 7,000 square feet on the first floor of the south wing of the building. This is now known as The Mallinckrodt Center that hosts numerous community activities and houses the Meskill Center, a community center for adults 50 and over.