Putting Down Roots In Wheaton

On July 1, 1947, the Wheaton Franciscan Sisters purchased and began occupying what was then unincorporated property in DuPage County. The 90 acres of land were purchased from the Hurly Family and originally held two grand family homes, woods, fruit orchards, a pool and creek. The two homes served as the aspirancy (Kara Hall) and the motherhouse (Maura Hall) for a time then became other facilities like offices, a daycare, and even a coffeehouse. Eventually, Kara Hall was demolished in 2009 and Maura Hall in 2013 after their condition had deteriorated. 

In 1953, the Provincial Council received permission to build the current Motherhouse (headquarters) for this Province. Because of Wheaton’s centralized location to the various Franciscan healthcare and teaching ministries of the Sisters, it made sense to move the headquarters from St. Louis. The new building was dedicated in 1955. 

Building a Legacy

The Needs of the Times

In the late ‘60s, the Wheaton Franciscan Sisters decided to dedicate a portion of their property to affordable housing, a critical social need in the area. Thus, Marian Park opened in 1973. 

Apart from their orphanages in Colorado, the Franciscan Sisters had not pursued teaching in the United States since the early 1910s. However, a request arrived for the sisters to open a school in Wauconda, IL. Meeting the needs of the times, three sisters began the Transfiguration Parish School in 1947 

Happenings Throughout America

“To all who come to this happy place: welcome.”

And so begins Walt Disney’s famous speech at the grand opening of Disneyland on July 17, 1955 in Anaheim, CA. Though Walt Disney passed away in 1966 before its completion, Walt Disney World opened on October 1, 1971 in Orlando, FL. Disneyland is known as “The Happiest Place on Earth,” while Disney World is known as “The Most Magical Place on Earth.”  

In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the order for construction of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. It’s a 630 ft tall and wide monument to Thomas Jefferson’s ideas for America’s westward expansion. Due to its enclosed confined space, the Secret Service has forbidden all presidents from going to the top of the Gateway Arch with the exception of former President Eisenhower who insisted on visiting the top in 1967. 

May 25, 1977 commemorates the birth of an epic America space opera: Star Wars – A New Hope premiered in 32 cinemas around the US as a limited release. It grossed $1.5 million in its first week. The release of this iconic film is the reason we now leave movie theaters once the credits roll. Before Star Wars, people could stay in theaters as long as they liked if they had purchased one ticket. Once the phenomenon of Star Wars began, theaters forced moviegoers to leave and repurchase a ticket if they wanted a repeat viewing of a film. 

“The power I exert on the court depends on the power of my arguments, not on my gender.”

On September 21, 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor became the first female supreme court justice. Since her appointment, three other women have served on the Supreme Court, making 4 out of the 114 appointed and confirmed justices in US History women. She served from 1981-2006.