Dear Fenwick Community,

This has been a momentous fall for Fenwick.  We are riding a wave of great news with strong admissions testing numbers expected this Saturday, great accomplishments by our athletic teams and coaches, and continued strong academic performance among our students while in the classroom full time.  The good news continues.

As you may recall, about six months ago Dominican University announced that they were selling the Priory property they own – the old Dominican House of Studies/Priory and a few contiguous acres.  As the Fenwick board of directors and administration began to explore this opportunity, we realized that perhaps more important for Fenwick to control its destiny – especially if some other entity were to purchase the Priory property from Dominican U. - we had to secure the long-term use of the athletic field space, currently leased from the Province of St. Albert the Great, which surround Dominican University’s property.

Figure 1: Dominican University Property (within dashed lines)

Concurrent to starting discussions with Dominican University’s representatives about their sale, we began discussions with the Province about a long-term lease arrangement for the athletic fields surrounding Dominican University’s property.  This evolved into a potential sale of the athletic fields by the Province to Fenwick.

Figure 2: Fenwick Athletic Fields at the Priory (in red)
As those discussions ensued, the Fenwick board and administration envisioned a different trajectory for Fenwick if the entire Priory property – the athletic field space and Dominican University’s property – were all under Fenwick’s control.  Truly, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that would be a “second founding” for Fenwick’s second century.

Fenwick is thrilled to announce today that we are purchasing 18 acres of land in River Forest at the Priory!

This is in two separate transactions:

  • The purchase of eleven acres of field space from the Dominican Province of St. Albert the Great.
  • The purchase of seven acres and the Priory building from Dominican University. 
Figure 3: The 18 Acres of Fenwick Priory Property (in red)
The agreement with the Province for the fields was finalized several weeks ago, and we have one year to finalize the payment terms in consultation with the Province.  As of the signing of the purchase sale agreement with Dominican University earlier today, a 120- day due diligence period begins, after which Fenwick is obligated to pay Dominican University the full purchase price.

We don’t yet know exactly what all the uses of the land and Priory will be, but much like our predecessors in the Fenwick community who didn’t know what the future would hold for Fenwick High School, we know this is something significant.  We know that this sets Fenwick on a path for even greater future success. We know this was simply too good an opportunity to forego.

This purchase is a defining moment in our history. Purchasing the entire Priory property propels Fenwick into a future unencumbered by land and facilities constraints. As future generations of Friars reflect on our history, 2021 will stand alongside 1929 as the founding of Fenwick High School for our second century.

This may also be a defining moment for the Dominican ministry on the west side of Chicago, as we look forward to working with our Dominican partners – Dominican University, Trinity High School, St. Vincent Ferrer, and possibly others - and the greater Oak Park-River Forest community to maintain the Priory as an asset for the neighborhood for many, many years to come.

None of this vision will become reality without significant philanthropic support from the Fenwick community over the coming months and years.  Let’s capitalize on our recent successes and continue the swelling momentum for a Fenwick future that is bold, bright and brimming with possibility. Let us lead by example to live up to the mission of Fenwick High School to educate students to lead, achieve and serve.

Many more details will be forthcoming and more communications will follow in the coming weeks and months.  In the meantime, a joint press release between Fenwick and Dominican University will be sent in the next hour or two announcing our purchase of Dominican University’s property.  We wanted you to hear it directly from us first.

Thank you for your continued prayers, encouragement and support.  We are the Friars and the Friars are great!


Fr. Richard Peddicord, O.P.

Fenwick High School is owned and sponsored by the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Albert the Great headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.
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