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St. Mary's Academy (Portland, Oregon)

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Title: St. Mary's Academy (Portland, Oregon)  
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Language: English
Subject: Marylhurst University, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, Roman Catholic secondary schools in Oregon, Karen Gaffney, Anna J. Brown
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

St. Mary's Academy (Portland, Oregon)

St. Mary's Academy
Today's young woman. Tomorrow's leader.
St. Mary's Academy is located in Portland, Oregon
St. Mary's Academy
St. Mary's Academy
1615 SW 5th Avenue
Portland, Oregon, Multnomah County, 97201
Type Private, All-Girls
Religious affiliation(s) Roman Catholic
Established 1859
President Christina Friedhoff[1]
Principal Kelli Clark[1]
Faculty 67[2]
Grades 912
Enrollment 646[2] (2013-2014)
Average class size 25
Student to teacher ratio 11.33:1
Color(s) Blue and white         [1]
Athletics conference OSAA Mt. Hood Conference 6A-2[1]
Mascot Blues[1]
Accreditation Northwest Accreditation Commission[2]
Publication Escribe Maria (Literary Magazine), The Ms. Print (Student Newspaper), and Imprint(Alumnae Magazine)

St. Mary's Academy is a Roman Catholic high school located in Portland, Oregon. It was founded by twelve sisters from the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in 1859. It is an all-girls school with approximately 640 students from all over northern Oregon and southwestern Washington. Since its founding, nearly 10,000 women have graduated from St. Mary’s Academy, the oldest continuously-operating secondary school in Oregon.


  • History 1
  • Academics 2
  • Notable alumnae 3
  • References 4


St. Mary's was founded by twelve sisters from the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in 1859, at the request of archbishop François Norbert Blanchet. Only two of the sisters spoke English; the others spoke French. They traveled from Montreal via ship and rail to Fort Vancouver where Blanchet had established a school on property he purchased from Daniel H. Lownsdale in 1857. The property had a two-story house, which became the school. St. Mary's opened in the same location with six female students (three Catholic, two Jewish, one Protestant) on Monday, November 7, 1859, 17 days after they reached Portland.[3]

In 1867, the first two graduates received their diplomas. The school had 250 girls in attendance by 1871. In 1889, the Lownsdale house was demolished and a four-story building designed by Otto Kleeman was built. In 1893, St. Mary's received a charter to grant college diplomas. It was the first women's liberal arts college in the Northwest and was known until 1930 as St. Mary's Academy and College. [4] Marylhurst University, originally part of the downtown school, moved out in 1930.[3]

The Kleeman building was inadequate for the students by the 1960s. The school expanded across 5th avenue, one block to the north, building a two-story brick building that is "strictly functional.... [with] no architectural pretensions". The Kleeman building was sold to a developer for $705,000 and demolished in 1970.[3] A public parking lot currently is on that site, although the original stone wall surrounding the building was demolished by the current owner in 2010. The school bought the old PSU postal office in 2013 for $6.7 million to allow the school to expand.[5] There is still some speculation on what to do with the new addition but the most likely usage would be for a new gymnasium and/or theater and possibly some more classrooms.


In 1984, 1989, and 1998, St. Mary's Academy was honored in the Blue Ribbon Schools Program, the highest honor a school can receive in the United States.[6] It also received the KATU Super School of the Year Award in 2006.

St. Mary's has been accredited through the Northwest Accreditation Commission since 1955.[2]

Notable alumnae


  1. ^ a b c d e :: Schools
  2. ^ a b c d
  3. ^ a b c Snyder, Eugene E. (1991). Portland Potpourri.  
  4. ^ Bunting, Robert. "St. Mary's Academy". The Oregon Encyclopedia. The Oregon Encyclopedia. Retrieved 10 July 2012. 
  5. ^ Culverwell, Wendy (September 27, 2013). "St. Mary's completes $7.6M land purchase". Portland Business Journal. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  6. ^ Archived: Blue Ribbon Schools Program, Schools Recognized 1982-1983 Through 1999-2002 (PDF)
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