Mount Saint Mary Academy, the oldest private Catholic school in New Hampshire, founded in 1858, educates in the tradition of the Sisters of Mercy and furthers the mission of Jesus Christ. Mount Saint Mary Academy is committed to academic excellence and the Gospel values of peace and justice. Our school instills in its students leadership skills and promotes the values of compassion and reverence for the community and the environment.
History of Mount Saint Mary Academy
The Sisters of Mercy were founded in Dublin, Ireland in 1831. The aim of the Foundress, Catherine McAuley was to help the poor, sick and uneducated people of Ireland.
Soon thereafter, the Sisters of Mercy were asked to come to the United States to help with the physical needs and instruction of the poor and to care for the sick, particularly Irish immigrants. Frances Warde came to the United States with some other young Sisters to begin this work.
In 1858 the Sisters of Mercy came to Manchester, New Hampshire. Here, the outreach was to the immigrants who worked in the Amoskeag Mills, and to their children, who were in need of education.
In 1858, the school was established and it was called Mount Saint Mary Academy. It was initially a boarding school for girls and was located in the northern section of the Convent at 435 Union Street in Manchester. Frances Warde believed that these girls should be educated for the higher social life so that they could take their place in society. Thirteen years later, the school moved from the Convent building to a new building across the street. Classes were held there until 1909, at which time the school was moved to a new location in Hooksett, NH, later known as Mount Saint Mary College.
The Manchester building now became Mount Saint Mary Preparatory School for Boys. By 1930, girls were once more admitted to the Manchester school and it was renamed Mount Saint Mary Academy. In 1933, the boys' boarding school closed and the boys were admitted as day students at the Academy.
In 1934, the Hooksett building opened its doors as Mount Saint Mary College. The high school students remained there as well, until 1949, when Mount Saint Mary Seminary (a high school for girls) was established in Nashua. The Hooksett campus remained a College until it closed in 1978. In 1989, Mount Saint Mary Seminary was renamed Mount Saint Mary High School. Sadly, in 1992, Mount Saint Mary High School closed.
In 1952, the Manchester School - now known as Mount Saint Mary Day School - moved its kindergarten to the building at 147 Laurel Street. This provided Kindergarten with more room for expansion. This became Mount Saint Mary Early Childhood Center. An addition was built during the 1950s and Pre-Kindergarten classes were added. In 1983, Mount Saint Mary Early Childhood Center became its own entity with plenty of room to grow - and so it did, as Nursery School and pre-first grade classes were soon added. Although the Day School closed during this period, Mount Saint Mary Early Childhood Center continued to provide quality education by expanding its offerings to include the Primary Grades.
When the Primary Grades were added, new space was necessary resulting in the rental of property from Saint Anne's Parish. The Parish Center became the home to Grades 1 through 6. Since the name Mount Saint Mary Early Childhood Center no longer fit our expanded educational offerings, the School was renamed Mount Saint Mary Academy once again. This brought us full circle - back to our roots in the earlier days.
There was a need to consolidate the two campuses and we spent many years looking for the right space to accommodate our needs. In 2002, the dream of a new campus for the school became a reality when we moved into our current home at 2291 Elm Street (the former Notre Dame College building). This building was purchased in conjunction with the Manchester Community Music School. A governing body, the HCH Foundation was established to oversee the property for both entities.
The sale of the school's Laurel Street property and the donation of the proceeds made it possible to purchase the Notre Dame College building. The Sisters of Mercy through their generosity and love chose once again to support this age-old institution, which survived many changes but has never abandoned its mission of ministering to those who seek excellence in education in a nurturing, spiritual environment.
This new location at 2291 Elm Street provided the School with ample room to accept additional students as well as space for special events. There is also a Chapel, which has created a sacred space for spiritual experiences and rituals.
Mount Saint Mary Academy, although it never ceased to provide quality education, now has the ability to keep pace with the age of technology and science. In 2019, we expanded our grades to include 7th and 8th grade and became a private Catholic school, no longer sponsored by Mercy Education Systems of America. In 2020, we added an additional Lower Preschool classroom for ages 18-35 months in an effort to continue growing our program and our school. Our focus continues to be on environmental education, respect for the Earth and for all of Creation.
We are thankful to all the Sisters of Mercy, to all the students and parents, and all the other friends of Mount Saint Mary Academy who have been with us throughout this remarkable history. We pray that our work will continue to be blessed, as we look forward to an equally remarkable future.
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