Academy of the Sacred Heart is an all-girls private, Roman Catholic high school in New Orleans, Louisiana. The school was founded in 1887. It is located in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans and is part of the network of Sacred Heart Schools. Within the Sacred Heart Network family, it is often referred to as "The Rosary." The school's student body ranges from toddler to 12th grade.
Sacred Heart is a member of the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest and athletically, it competes in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association.
Academy of the Sacred Heart was established in 1867 by the Society of the Sacred Heart.
St. Philippine Duchesne, a missionary to the New World, arrived in New Orleans in 1818, exactly one hundred years after Bienville founded the city. After fifty years of pursuing missionary work in unsettled areas along the river, the nuns returned to establish a convent in the Vieux Carre.
In the late 19th century, the French Quarter was in decline. Most importantly, the established French, Catholic families from the Quarter and Esplanade Ridge, whose daughters were the mainstay of the student body, were moving across town into what was the American sector. In addition, second generation English and Irish families, who were already uptown, were seeking for their daughters a school that provided the same type of education that the religious had been providing downtown. It was therefore no surprise that the religious sought refuge from their deteriorating urban environment and turned their attention upriver. Demographically, the nuns and the city were moving in the same direction.
The new location chosen by the nuns was the John Calhoun-S. J. Peters Greek Revival mansion built in 1847. The estate comprised two squares. The first contained the main house set far back from the major thoroughfare, St. Charles Street. The second was separated from the first by Apollo Street, now Carondelet. It was spacious enough for a vegetable garden, orange grove and farmyard. When the Mother Superior requested permission in June 1886 to purchase these two lots for $30,000,the Mother General in Paris sent a one-word telegram: "Achetez." Soon after this concise mandate "to buy," the Academy was ready to open.
This charming villa served the nuns admirably for thirteen years. By then, however, the house proved inadequate for the volume of students. As a result, the religious decided to demolish the old house and to construct a new building. The lone reminder of the Academy's origins is the large, wrought iron fountain with a swan atop that still stands today. The new building, Colonial Revival in style, designed by the architects, Diboll and Owen, was dedicated in 1900. As spacious as the new Academy was, it underwent three expansions in 1906, 1913, and 1996.
On August 1, 2002, the Board of Trustees authorized the purchase of the First Baptist Church property on St. Charles and Napoleon avenues. This was the first property acquisition for the school in 115 years. At one and a half square city blocks, the new property nearly doubles the size of the Sacred Heart campus and is located just two blocks from the Rosary Campus. Called the Mater Admirabilis Campus, it is named for the original French Quarter school.
The Mater Campus opened in the fall of 2005 and is home to the Preschool and Lower School. The new Little Hearts Early Learning Center for toddler and nursery students is also located on the site. The Bob and Jeri Nims Fine Arts Center, an auditorium with the capacity to seat 1,200 people and accommodate the entire student body for all-school liturgies as well as other large events, is a prominent feature of the campus. Other features are the gymnasium, dining hall, library, Chapel and 100-car parking lot.
As part of the Sacred Heart Network, the school's administration and students commit themselves to five educational goals:Develop a personal and active faith in God
Explore a deep respect for intellectual values
Engage in a social awareness which impels action
Share in the building of community as a Christian value
Realize personal growth in an atmosphere of wise freedom
Martha Gilmore Robinson (1888-1981), women's rights and civic activist