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updated: 8/19/2011 5:18 PM

Lake Forest school to get gift of 23 acres

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  • Anonymous donors plan to give 23 acres of the former Barat College campus in Lake Forest to Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart, an all-girls Catholic high school. Woodlands is adjacent to the Barat property.

      Anonymous donors plan to give 23 acres of the former Barat College campus in Lake Forest to Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart, an all-girls Catholic high school. Woodlands is adjacent to the Barat property.
    Daily Herald file photo 2004

 
 

Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest may receive an anonymous 23-acre donation of what had been the former Barat College campus.

Gerald Grossman, Woodlands Academy head of school, announced the expected gift Friday afternoon. He released a letter from the anonymous donors who have stated an intention to donate the parcel to Woodlands Academy.

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"We have seen the benefits of an all-girls, Catholic high school that pushed each student to reach her potential in both academics and citizenship," the letter states. "We believe in the mission of Woodlands Academy. We believe in the girls. We believe in the administration, the faculty and staff, and we believe in the board of trustees."

Grossman was not available for additional comment.

After closing in 2005, Barat College was supposed to be transformed into a $125 million development featuring a variety of homes, preserved historic structures and a service attendant for residents at Westleigh and Sheridan roads. Instead, the land on Lake Forest's posh east side wound up in foreclosure in 2008.

Harris Bank filed a foreclosure lawsuit against Robert G. Shaw and his Barat Woods LLC development team Oct. 16. Barat Woods at the time was accused of not repaying a $16 million loan before the Dec. 31, 2007 termination date.

Barat was an independent school until it struck an alliance with DePaul University in 2001. DePaul closed Barat in 2005, citing limited enrollment, few academic programs and the need for extensive building repairs.

Shaw announced the purchase of Barat's 23 acres in January 2006. Roughly 120 townhouses, condominiums and garden houses were part of the plans.

Grossman said Woodlands officials will undertake a thorough process to identify the best use of the 23 acres in keeping with the school's academic mission and other considerations. The Barat land is adjacent to Woodlands Academy and would lead to one 40-acre campus.

Society of the Sacred Heart established the Barat College campus in Lake Forest in 1918. Woodlands Academy, a college preparatory school with day and boarding programs for girls, was built across a ravine from Barat on the same property in 1961.

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