St. James Academy was Lemont's first school that offered secondary education, opening up its doors in
1884. A two-story building made with local limestone was erected for the purpose of housing the classrooms. St. James
was cared for by St. Patrick's Parish in the community, which also led to the school also being referred to as St. Patrick's
by the Diocese of Chicago at the time.
The Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa, WI were in charge of the school, which graduated its first class in 1893. In 1896,
the Rev. Michael O'Sullivan opened a commercial department of the school, and enrollment grew within the year. Those students
had their first graduation in 1898 at the Teden Opera house with Circuit Judge John J. Gibbons handing out diplomas to
Even though the enrollment had another jump in 1899, it is believed that the commercial department closed in 1900 when
Rev. O'Sullivan was transferred to St. Bridget's Parish in Chicago, but we are uncertain if the academic department followed
suit. The building remains standing in Lemont today, even as students from St. Patrick now attend school with students
from St. Alphonsus Parish.