St. Patrick School History
St. Patrick School was started even before construction began on St. Patrick Church. Originally founded by the Sisters of Providence, St. Patrick School opened for the Christian education of young people in 1882. The first year’s enrollment was 150 students. This figure gradually increased in succeeding years. The school’s beginning was humble, with only $3,500 available to secure the first school building.
“In 1881, the Reverend Thomas X. Logan, Pastor of St. Patrick’s parish, asked Mother Mary Ephrem to finance a convent and school in his parish. The children of his congregation, located in the eastern part of the town, could not attend St. Joseph’s school on account of the distance. St. Patrick’s parish, readily identified by its patron, wanted an English-speaking parish. Although the parish was not a wealthy one, the people had a sincere devotion to their faith, and had given generously to the building of a Gothic church adequate for their needs.”
“Mother Mary Ephrem agreed to open a school and provide a convent. Ready to her hands was a piece of property adjoining St. Patrick’s church grounds. On the lot was a frame meeting-house belonging to Plymouth Church Company. The Council felt that it was better to assume the expense rather than have another teaching Community come into Terre Haute “to the very door of our motherhouse.”
“Accordingly, a letter was sent to the members of the General Council, local superiors of houses having ten Sisters, asking their opinion and advice in the matter. All voiced their approval of the purchase and building, as they generally endorsed all Mother Mary Ephrem’s proposals. Negotiations were begun at once with Captain S.H. Potter, treasurer of the Plymouth Church Company. The Sister preferred to buy the property through Bishop Chatard, and Mother Mary Ephrem furnished him with thirty-five hundred dollars. The Bishop transacted the purchase of the Plymouth Chapel and property and then deeded the property to the Sisters.”
Meanwhile, a convent had to be built. Mr. D.A. Bohlen, architect, presented a neat and compact plan, and promised to superintend the building. He contracted A. Helm and Sons of Indianapolis to build the two-story brick convent, to fit up the Plymouth chapel into the school rooms, to connect it with the convent, and to install heating equipment. The cost of the building and renovation came to seven thousand, seven hundred, and ten dollars. Everything was ready for the new school in September, 1882. Sister Mary Edward Michael, Sister Margaret Mary Goree, Sister Jerome Boland, and Sister Ann August Malloy opened the School. Pupils who could pay were expected to the tuition charge, but poor children were never refused. The Sisters received no recompense in the line of salary or maintenance. The prospects were good as the attendance during the first year rose to one hundred and fifty.
Forty year later, Father James Delaney acquired several piece of property on the Westside of Nineteenth Street from Poplar and Oak and in addition acquired the two residences on Poplar between this property and Eighteenth Street. On 19th Street, he constructed a fine school building which housed an elementary school and girls’ high school. It was dedicated on Sunday, November 25, 1923. Father Winterhalter succeeded Fr. Walker in 1950. During the 1950’s St. Patrick Parish engaged in fund raising to construct Schulte High School, and to build a new church and rectory at 19th and Poplar. The completion of the new church was on the 75th anniversary of the founding of the parish, as it was dedicated on Sunday, February 5, 1956.
In fall of 1959, new classrooms and a cafeteria were added due to increasing enrollment.
A capital campaign entitled Building in Faith was started in 1995 to raise funds for much needed space and renovation. A new media center, science and computer labs, office and classrooms and a new Parish Life Center which includes a kitchen, gym, and meeting rooms were built and dedicated in March of 1998. The media center was dedicated to Sister Mary Moeller, S.P. who was the principal of St. Patrick School from 1987-1996. Sister Mary was crucial in the initial planning of the new addition.
St. Patrick School continues to “go and grow” with plans for the renovation of the basement space for future needs. We are blessed with faithful parishioners who support our mission at St. Patrick School: Building Saints and Scholars.