In 1818, at age 48, Philippine Duchesne set out with four other Sacred Heart nuns on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean and upriver from New Orleans to the tiny village of St. Charles on the Missouri River, 25 miles from St. Louis. There, in a primitive log cabin, Mother Duchesne opened the Academy of the Sacred Heart—the first free school west of the Mississippi, and the first of many Schools of the Sacred Heart in the United States.  To learn more, visit First Sacred Heart School in America.

Following is an excerpt of HEC-TV’s A Mission to Educate, a video about the history of Catholic education in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. This excerpt describes the Academy’s founding by Philippine Duchesne in 1818.


HECTV Sacred Heart Feature

 


Timeline

IMPORTANT DATES IN ACADEMY HISTORY

 

1800

Madeleine Sophie Barat founded the Society of the Sacred Heart; the following year its first foundation was made in Amiens, France.


 

1804

Philippine Duchesne joined the fledgling Society of the Sacred Heart.


 

1818

At the invitation of Bishop DuBourg, Philippine Duchesne traveled to the New World to establish the first Sacred Heart School in America. The Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles was the first free school west of the Mississippi.


 

1819

Financial difficulties and the lack of boarding students caused the Academy to relocate to Florissant, Missouri.


 

1821

St. Charles became the First Capital when Missouri was admitted to the Union.


 

1828

The Jesuits drew the Society of the Sacred Heart back to its cradle foundation in St. Charles. They had just built the large stone church dedicated to St. Charles Borromeo.


 

1835

The Society committed to a permanent establishment in St. Charles by erecting the first brick convent and school.


 

1840

Section of brick building just north of 1835 (original) building was added.


 

1841

Philippine Duchesne traveled to Sugar Creek, Kansas and spent a year with the Potawatomi Indians, realizing a lifelong dream of working with Native Americans. They called her “the woman who prays always.”


 

1852

At age 83, Philippine Duchesne died in St. Charles, where she lived the last ten years of her life.


 

1856

Section of brick building just south of 1835 building (now the Conference Room) was added.


 

1858

A brick parish school was built on the campus near Second Street; RSCJ taught the town children there. It ceased to function in the 1890s.


 

1860

Primary Wing was added to west side of building.


 

1865

During Civil War soldiers were encamped in tents on Academy grounds. Troops drilled and property was protected and thoroughly respected.


 

1883

Chapel (now Cribbin Hall) was built on north end of campus.


 

1886

Science Wing was added on south end of building.


 

1893

A brick building near the Decatur gate was built. Originally planned to be a parish school, it became instead the laundry. Almost 100 years later, it became the home of the Philippine Community.


 

1905

The “tower” was added to the Primary Wing.


 

1940

Pope Pius XII beatified Philippine Duchesne.


 

1951

Under the patronage of Archbishop Ritter, ground was broken for the Shrine of St. Philippine Duchesne; the freestanding building was completed one year later.


 

1952

Shrine was completed partially, awaiting additional funds for final nave to the south.


 

1961

The south wing of the school was added, connecting the Academy and the Shrine.


 

1966

Shrine was finished (without nave) in contemporary liturgical design.


 

1967

Regis Hall was built to house primary classes and residence for boarders. This building was almost exactly placed on the original Duquette Mansion (log cabin of the school’s 1818 beginning).


 

1972

The high school was closed. The last class of high school seniors graduated in the spring. In the fall, boys were admitted for the first time in the grade school. Beginning as a co-institutional system, the girls’ school retained the title, Academy of the Sacred Heart. The boys’ school was called Perier Elementary (after the cousins of Philippine Duchesne, with whom she grew up and who were very generous to her in her missionary activities). That first year there were two classes of boys:  primary and first grade. Each year another class was added until boys comprised all nine grades.


 

1980

The north wing was added and the old chapel became Cribbin Hall Library.


 

1986

Pre-Primary classes for 4-year-olds were begun.


 

1987

Rauch Memorial (gymnasium) was built and the existing gym became the school cafeteria (White Center).


 

1988

St. Philippine Duchesne was canonized by Pope John Paul II.


 

1993

With no clear division between boys’ and girls’ classes, the name Perier Elementary was discontinued.


 

2006

With educational research pointing the way, the school returned to its single gender roots.  The seventh and eighth grades were divided into all-boys’ and all-girls’ classes.  Pre-Primary through Sixth Classes remained coeducational.


 

2011

Single gender classes were extended to the sixth grade.


 

OldPhoto

1913 Girls and Dolls

1920s TeetertotterSHstatue19321920s SleddingForSisterRosenthal

1929-1930 Middy Blouses Marheineke (left)

1945 First Communionsisterribbon

CongeGirls

GirlsbyRoundhouse

FieldHockeySmall

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1967 Young Singers

Class of 1968

SchoolPhoto

1974 Listening Center

Boy with scissors, 1976Computer 84-85

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Ken with 2 boys

New Uniforms 85-86

1st Pre-Primary orientation 85-86

Seventh Class early '90s

Lab picturePre Pri Silver Tea '98-'99BW