The Benedictine Sisters' ministry in the Diocese of Peoria began in October 1874 when five Sisters from Chicago established
a convent and a boarding school for young girls in Nauvoo. The presence of the Sisters was requested by the Bishop of Chicago,
and was accepted by the new Bishop of Peoria, when the Diocese was established in 1877.
The school, named St. Mary's Academy in 1879, served young ladies for its entire history. The original convent was
replaced by the current three-story brick complex built in 1954.
The Academy closed its doors after 123 years following the final commencement ceremony in June 1997. In 2001 the Sisters
of St. Benedict, after having built a new monastery in Rock Island, departed from Nauvoo. The remaining buildings were
sold to the Mormon Church.
The Benedictine Sister's Website, http://www.stmarymonastery.org/wwa2.html
contains the following information regarding the history of their academy at Nauvoo:
"The Benedictine Sisters first came to Nauvoo, Illinois, on October 15, 1874. Sister Ottilia Hoeveler and four
companions, Sister Benedict Zimmerman, Sister Hildegarde Strattman, Sister Mary Agnes Wolf and Miss Lena Pahlman, came from
St. Scholastica Convent in Chicago to start a school for young ladies.
"The first convent and school were established in a residence which had been built as a Mormon arsenal, later used
by the Icarians as a machine shop, and then converted into a home. The school, called St. Scholastica Academy, was opened
on November 2, 1874. Seven girls from Nauvoo and vicinity were enrolled.
"The Convent in Nauvoo became independent of the Chicago Community in 1879. The name of the school was changed
to St. Mary's Academy and the Sisters' home was called St. Mary's Convent. The original convent was expanded in 1892 and in
1897 a new school was added.
"In 1907, the boys' school was built, opening under the name of Spalding Institute. In 1908, the
community came upon hard times when they were victimized by a speculator and lost all of their property. The Sisters did not
give up. Spalding was closed in 1920. For a few years the building was used by the United States Government as a vocational
school, but in 1925 it was reopened as a boys' school and renamed St. Edmund's Hall. In 1939, the Sisters repossessed all
of their property debt free. The boys' school was closed in 1940 and St.Edmund's was used as the convent. After occupancy
by the Sisters, the name of the building was changed to Benet Hall. In the late 1950s the grade school section of St. Mary's
Academy was discontinued and the St. Mary's student body included girls in grades 9 through 12.
"A new monastery was built in 1954, a new high school in 1957, an addition in 1962 and a dormitory in 1967. Later,
Mary Hall, the old Academy building, and Benet Hall were razed... The Academy flourished until the late 1960s.
Enrollment fluctuated after that time. Due to declining enrollment, the Sisters closed St. Mary's Academy in June of 1997."
St. Mary's Academy Quick Facts
Year opened: 1874
Year closed: 1997
School colors: Blue
School nickname: the
School team colors: Blue & White
School Fight Song: "The
Bells of St. Mary's"
The Illinois Theatre Festival is the largest, non-competetive high school theatre festival in the world. It was organized
in 1976 by teachers from the Chicago suburbs. This festival is still going strong as they perform at the University of Illinois
(Champaign-Urbana) and Illinois State University every other January. St. Marys participated in this festival in 1980, 1982
and from 1986 to its closure in 1997.
Girls from St. Mary's Academy were well known for their participation in Track, Volleyball, and Basketball. There
is no indication that the girls reach post season tournaments in the IHSA in any particular years. If you have any information
regarding the participation of the girls of St. Mary's Academy in sporting activities over the years, please contact us.
St. Mary's was a special place for many young girls over the years. As alumna Tami Berger Lobdell
"I was a graduate of St. Mary's Academy in 1988. Attending the school was one of the best periods of my
**From Nicole Klaucens (Class of 1977):
"I am writing
because I really would love to get my hands on any videos from the productions I was in or the CD that was handed out when
we graduated. It had a video montage I believe. I am searching fo any footage of my days at St. Mary's!"
**From Walter Parham:
"Our family moved from Pittsburgh, PA in 1936 to Keokuk, IA. My oldest sister Loraine attended school at St. Mary's
in 1937-38. My father would drive over to Nauvoo with the rest of the family on Sundays sometimes to visit but
it was a difficult drive. The river road on the Illinois side was not paved and after hard rains it was sometimes impassable.
One Sunday we got our Buick stuck in the mud and had to have a farmer with his team of horses come to pull us out. Now,
it is a beautiful drive along that road."
Searching for Information / Memories
If you have any further information or memories you would like to share regarding Nauvoo St. Marys High School please
write to us via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Illinois HS Glory Days
6439 Neva St.
Chicago, Il. 60631