MARK T. SKINNER (1813-1887)

Mark T. Skinner, a prominent lawyer and civic leader, first arrived in Chicago in 1836. Here, he spent the remaining 51 years of his life demonstrating his interest in the welfare of the people of his adopted city.

He served this city and state as:

  • Judge of the Cook County Court of Common Pleas

  • City Attorney of Chicago

  • City School Inspector

  • Member of the State Legislature

  • United States District Attorney of Illinois

  • Member of the United States Sanitary Commission

  • President of the Chicago Sanitary Commission

Skinner helped organize the "Young Men's Association," a forerunner of the Great Chicago Public Library, and was founder of a Chicago school established for the laudable purpose of educating homeless boys. He was one of the corroborators of the Chicago Gas Light and Coke Company, the old Chicago Marine and Fire Insurance Company, the State Insurance Company, and director of the Galena, Chicago and Union Railroad and the Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad.

In 1859, city fathers acknowledged the civic contributions of Mark T. Skinner 28 years before his death by naming the Mark T. Skinner School for him.

An Ever Growing School Community

In 2009, after more than 50 years on its current site, the old Skinner West school building was replaced with the building we have today.

A decade later, in 2019, Skinner West opened a new, four-story annex on the north side of the building. That same year, parent volunteers began work on a new gross motor room, library, and computer lab at the Branch.

Read more about the Skinner West buildings.

Recognized for Excellence

In 2023, Skinner West received an “exemplary” summative designation. This annual summative designation from the Illinois State Board of Education describes how well an individual school meets the needs of all of its students.

Exemplary designation acknowledges the top performing 10% of schools in Illinois. The designations recognize schools with strong overall performance across a range of academic and student success indicators. Learn more.


Skinner West was recognized as a Blue Ribbon School in 2013. The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes outstanding public and non-public US schools. Learn more .





A Leader and Her Legacy

After 28 years as Skinner West’s principal, Mrs. Deborah Clark retired in 2021. There are no words sufficient enough to describe the impact she had on our students, teachers, staff, and community. Her leadership made Skinner West one of the premier schools in Chicago. She touched so many lives during her tenure and saw the potential in every student that walked through Skinner West’s doors.