Our History

A powerful sense of possibility inspired five young Hyde Park families in the summer of 1962 to place a want ad in the Hyde Park Herald asking, “Montessori, Anybody?” By autumn, the then called Ancona Montessori School opened in a storefront on 53rd street and Lake Park Blvd., and a school that offered a philosophical difference astonishing for its time was born.

Instead of passive rote learning, children at the Montessori inspired school would be empowered through choice and independence to pursue their own interests and intellectual challenges. And unlike the other schools of its day, Ancona would offer its innovative programming in a racially inclusive environment. The 1960’s left their imprint on the school. Underlying Ancona’s exceptional educational program is a concern for social justice and for imparting to children a sense of their own agency in the world. This humanistic, child-centered vision proved very much in demand in Hyde Park,and Ancona flourished.

Two years later The Ancona School moved to the former Faulkner School building at the corner of 48th street and Dorchester Ave. Nurtured through the years by outstanding faculty and staff together with dedicated parents, Ancona grew from a one-room Chicago preschool into a comprehensive preschool through 8th grade Montessori inspired program by the mid-1970’s. From its first days at the Dorchester site, Ancona parents wanted to offer this visionary education to the surrounding neighborhood, then untouched by urban renewal. In the late 1960’s, Ancona received funds to start the first Montessori Headstart program in the nation, and Ancona’s commitment to an economically heterogeneous student body came to life. This commitment has continued without interruption with its realization today in the financial aid program.

To provide for the burgeoning elementary grades, an addition was built in 1968. As urban renewal swept through the community in the 1980’s, the purchase of adjacent lands set the stage for building a second addition to house the growing middle school in 1993. Renovations to the Faulkner building in 2001 brought the campus to its current configuration.

In 2016, Ancona opened it’s award-winning Outdoor Learning Space (OLS), a one-of-a-kind playground with an adjoining athletics field. Later that year, the OLS was expanded to include the school garden, a 4000 square foot learning farm that is integrated into the curriculum through all subjects, prepimary to 8th grade. 

Today’s Ancona has exceptional academic programs, unique museum partnerships, innovative teaching initiatives and national recognition as an effective non-profit from the Brookings Institute. In 2006, Chicago Magazine named Ancona as one of the 25 best private elementary schools in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Our proven pedagogy of independence, critical thinking and multiculturalism graduates interesting, competent and committed young people. Our founders’ vision is alive in Ancona today. We are fortunate that as a result of their stewardship, and that of the Board of Trustees, The Ancona school upholds its current position of great strength.