St Joseph Bohemian Orphanage and Chapel

Now Benet Academy High School

Lisle, Illinois

Project Status
Facility is now a high school. Decoration survival is unknown.

Project Date/s
1940 and 1942

St Joseph Bohemian Orphanage was established by Benedictine monks in 1898 in the Chicago suburb of Lisle, Illinois. Before this, the Polish and Bohemian orphans were housed at the St. Stanislaus Parish orphanage in Chicago. The Bohemian clergy decided the Bohemian orphans needed their own home and moved the bohemian orphans to Lisle. The Benedictine fathers of St Procopius Abbey in Lisle donated several acres of land and a farm house for the orphans. Contributions for the orphans were solicited and enough funds were received to purchase 40 acres of land and buildings for 150 children. A building was erected in 1910, and in 1912, the institution was incorporated as the Lisle Industrial School for Girls and the Lisle Manual Training School for boys. It was located near the Benedictine all boys St Procopius College and Academy, and the girls only Sacred Heart Academy. The Bohemian Benedictine sisters were in charge of the children since 1898.

In 1940, Mallin did some work in the orphanage chapel, according to his bank records, for which he was paid $300.00 Rev. Vincent Novotny, O.S.B., was the priest at the orphanage who hired Mallin. It is not known what decorations Mallin did at the chapel. Postcards of the chapel provided by the Benedictine Sisters in Lisle show stained glass windows, some figurines, and some limited artwork. The date of the postcards is not known. Another postcard of the chapel, with an unknown but probably earlier date, shows limited decorations in the chapel except for four small paintings.

In 1942, also according to his bank records, Mallin was hired to do unspecified work at the orphanage, for which he was paid $3,000. The orphanage had many class rooms so he may have decorated some of these in addition to any other work he may have done in the chapel. In 1943-1944 he decorated the Benedictine Sisters Chapel and Lobby on the Lisle campus.

The orphanage closed in 1956, and became a boy’s high school, St Procopius Academy. It is now a coeducational Benet Academy high school. The chapel space was used as an assembly hall for a number of years in the 1980s and 1990s. In 2000 it was renovated and rededicated as the Chapel of St. Therese, the Little Flower. Only the stained glass windows in the sanctuary and the some statues remain from the original chapel. A current photo of the chapel can be found at the link below. It is unknown if any of Mallin’s work survived in the chapel or orphanage.


Allison, Mary A. A Study of the Catholic Institutions for Dependent Children in the Archdiocese of Chicago Emphasizing Vocational Education. Loyola University Masters Thesis 1933.

Sister Barbara Ann Svec, “OSB Benedictine Sister of Sacred Heart Treasured History and Tradition.” Article in Lisle Benedictine Women, Vol. 36 No. 1 June 2013, p. 3-4. At

Additional information obtained from Stephen Marth, Principal at Benet Academy, and Sister Mary Bratrsovsky from the Benedictine Sisters in Lisle, who also provided postcard images of the original chapel artwork which is from a booklet done by the Hermitage Art Company.
Photo of chapel as it currently exists at Benet Academy

Postcard of original chapel from Souvenir of St Joseph Bohemian Orphanage Post cards, part of the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center, Fort Wayne, Indiana, at