Bygone DePaul: McCormick Theological Seminary and the East Campus

Bygone DePaul is a series highlighting DePaul’s campus and how it has changed through the years.

Stone Academic-Administration BuildingIn 1969, the Stone Academic-Administration Building of the McCormick Theological Seminary was taken over by the Poor People’s Coalition, led by the Young Lords. The Young Lords were a Puerto Rican youth organization fighting against gentrification in Lincoln Park, and they saw McCormick as part of the problem.

In 1974, the McCormick Theological Seminary decided to move to Hyde Park, and in 1976 DePaul University purchased the West campus, including McCabe, Corcoran, Cortelyou and Hayes-Healey. DePaul purchased the East campus in 1977, including the Stone building (which became the DePaul School of Music) and McGaw. These buildings were used by DePaul as space for student residences, performances, academic departments and classrooms. The Seminary Townhouses, which had been used by McCormick for faculty housing, were purchased by the Seminary Townhouse Association. The acquisition of the McCormick Theological Seminary profoundly affected the shape and character of the Lincoln Park Neighborhood and DePaul University.

East CampusThe history of the McCormick Theological Seminary in Lincoln Park is long. The Seminary was founded in 1829 in Indiana. Due to the changing needs of the Presbyterian frontier population and the generous philanthropy of Cyrus McCormick, the Seminary moved to Chicago in 1857. William B. Ogden (the first mayor of Chicago), Joseph Sheffield (a prominent Eastern businessman), and beer-barons Michael Diversey and William Lill donated twenty-five acres of land along Fullerton Avenue (next to where DePaul University would soon be founded) to set up facilities in 1863. Their hope was that a “strong institution” located there would encourage further development in the area. The McCormick Theological Seminary received its current name in 1886 in honor of Cyrus McCormick, who supported the Seminary through many difficult growing pains. Throughout its tenure in Lincoln Park, the Seminary fulfilled its role as a strong institution that profoundly affected the neighborhood.
Contact DePaul’s Special Collections and Archives for more information.

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