Dominican University has entered into a Purchase and Sale Agreement with Fenwick High School for a nearly seven-acre property in River Forest known as the Priory Campus. With the execution of the purchase and sale agreement, the parties begin a 120-day due diligence period. Pending approvals and subject to closing, the sale is expected to finalize in the spring.

“Fenwick’s bid and the price offered in the purchase and sale agreement is in line with our expectations and includes assurances that the property will be utilized in a way that is respectful to the rest of our campus, our neighbors and the Village we all call home,” said Dominican University President Dr. Glena Temple. “Fenwick is a natural next inhabitant of the Priory Campus, and we believe they will continue using the property to benefit the entire River Forest community.”

“The Priory property purchase is a momentous event in the history of Fenwick High School. Purchasing the Priory building – the old House of Studies – from Dominican University, and the surrounding athletic fields from the Province of St. Albert the Great, 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,” said Fenwick High School President Fr. Richard Peddicord, O.P. “We look forward to working with our Dominican partners and the Oak Park River Forest community to maintain the Priory as an asset for the neighborhood for many, many years to come.”

A number of entities in and around the Oak Park and River Forest communities expressed interest in the Priory Campus, but Dominican made the decision to proceed with Fenwick as it provided the best overall bid. Selling to the school also ensures that many of the existing buildings on the property will not be torn down, preserving much of its important historical architecture.

Dominican University purchased the Priory in 2002 as a satellite campus to accommodate enrollment growth, primarily in its graduate programs. The property served two Dominican Provinces from 1925 through 2002. The first building on the campus, the St. Thomas Priory, was modeled on the castle of the family of St. Thomas Aquinas and originally housed Dominican students as they prepared for the priesthood. In 1939, the Province of St. Albert the Great opened The Dominican House of Studies and, as the needs of the campus grew, a new building was opened in 1964. The Dominican House of Studies closed in 1970 but the Priory Campus continued to be home to generations of Dominican Friars until 2012.

Given the growing popularity of online learning, especially at the graduate level, the need for additional academic and residential hall space was not as urgent as it was almost 20 years ago and, as part of its campus master planning process, Dominican University pursued the sale of the property.

As a component of the purchase and sale agreement, Dominican and Fenwick agreed to an extended lease to continue providing child-care services for the community through the Rose K. Goedert Center for Early Childhood Education, which operates on the Priory Campus. Additionally, the parties have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on potential spiritual, academic and athletic programming and partnerships in the future.

About Dominican University

Founded in 1901, Dominican University is a comprehensive, coeducational Catholic institution offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees through the Rosary College of Arts and Sciences, the Borra College of Health Sciences, the Brennan School of Business and the College of Applied Social Sciences. The university also offers a doctoral degree in information studies. U.S. News & World Report ranks Dominican University #10 of all Midwest regional master’s level universities, the best value in the Chicago area and #1 in Illinois for ensuring the social mobility of its graduates.