Saint Mary Star Of The Sea And Its School

Saint Mary Star Of The Sea And Its School (HM1YL8)

Location: Hampton, VA 23663
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 0.938', W 76° 19.122'

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Catholic Education in Phoebus and Fort Monroe

The story of Saint Mary Star of the Sea School goes back to 1858 when Chapel of the Centurion was built at Fort Monroe primarily for Protestant services. A group of officers—some of Irish extraction—requested that a Catholic church also be built. After negotiations among the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, the Army Corps of Engineers, and President Lincoln, an agreement was reached that kept the land in government hands while allowing free access for non-military parishioners. The first church, a wooden building, was dedicated in 1860 and was replaced by the present stone structure in 1903. Saint Mary's was the first Catholic parish on the Peninsula.

As the church grew, Father Thomas J. Wilson saw the need for a Catholic school and by 1920 had raised enough funds to start. Three years later, the church acquired "Brightview," a mansion on Mill Creek that had been used as a post-Civil War convalescent hospital and as a hotel, converting it for classroom use.

At the same time, Father William A. Gill wrote to the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia in Nashville, Tenn., to ask whether they could staff the school, and they agreed. The relationship continues to this day. Four sisters, Principal Mary Isabel Rice, Gabrielle Brennan, Mary Rita Cody, and Borgia Cobb, arrived in September 1923, when the school opened
its doors to its first student body of just under 100 pupils. It was the first Catholic school on the Peninsula.

The next several decades, especially during the post-World War II baby boom, saw a remarkable growth in student population, reaching a peak of 910 in 1960-61. Throughout the 1950s, major construction projects were undertaken, and several wings were built. Finally in 2004 a gym and cafeteria were added. Today, the school enrolls students from Saint Mary Star of the Sea at Fort Monroe, Saint Joseph in Buckroe, Saint Rose of Lima in Wythe, and Immaculate Conception in Riverdale, as well as from other Catholic churches around Hampton Roads.

Saint Mary School etiquette luncheon, an 8th grade tradition.
The 1957 Boy's Basketball team with Rev. Walter P.Sullivan
The first graduating class of Saint Mary School, 1946
All images Courtesy Saint Mary Star of the Sea School
HM NumberHM1YL8
Year Placed2010
Placed ByBringing History to Life
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, May 29th, 2017 at 9:01pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 382688 N 4097419
Decimal Degrees37.01563333, -76.31870000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 0.938', W 76° 19.122'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 0' 56.28" N, 76° 19' 7.32" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)757, 804
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling West
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 329 VA-143, Hampton VA 23663, US
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