St. Mary's Grade School

West Partridge St. - 1870


New school built in 1923

1952 - South expansion

Early Learning Center for Preschool - 2003

St. Mary's Catholic Grade School


      St. Mary’s parish made its first attempt to establish a parochial school in 1870.  Rev. Joseph Goldschmidt, a missionary, asked the Franciscan sisters of Joliet to serve as teachers.  However, after one year the school failed due to a lack of funds.   

This school was held in a private residence which belonged to the Holzinger Family.

The building was located on the site of the present residence at 514 W. Partridge Street.

     The next attempt was made in 1874 by Rev. George Mager, a young priest who lived at Black Partridge (Lourdes) and served both that church  then known as St. Raphael’s and St. Mary’s, Metamora until 1875.  Father Mager began his school in a small building on the corner where the present Sister’s Convent now stands.  Charles Wernert, 29, who was born in France was the teacher and church organist. 

     In April, 1875 Mr. Julius Mager announced that he would open a School of Instruction for the benefit of the children, and adults who desire a practical knowledge of the German language and to accustom all to a proper pronunciation of the language.

     By 1877, the school was getting too small for one teacher.  The Capuchin Fathers took over the parish in that year.  Father Francis Xavier Strunk  engaged the Ursuline sisters to take charge of the school.  The house which had been acquired was moved to the school corner and joined with the existing building.  It served as a combination school, parish hall and convent.

        With the increased enrollment, the old school became inadequate and plans were made to build a two-story brick school in 1890.  Thirty years later, there was a need for a new school again.  This school was completed and dedicated in the fall of 1923 with an enrollment of 127 pupils.  Additions were made to the school in 1940 when four classrooms and a gym were added.  In 1952 the south expansion of four more classrooms, rest rooms, cafeteria and kitchen were completed.  All-day kindergarten was started with the school year of 2002-2003.

     An Early Learning Center began in 2003 for three and four-year olds in two temporary modular units placed on the school parking lot.  St. Mary’s remains the only Catholic school in Woodford County.

     More detailed school history can be found in the St. Mary’s Church Diamond Jubilee 1939, St. Mary’s Church Centennial l864-1964, St. Mary’s Church Pictorial 1989, St. Mary’s Church Pictorial 1999 and St. Mary’s Church Pictorial, 2006.


History and photos submitted by Shirley A. Adams.

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Send any old photos and related stories concerning the Metamora Village Park to Metamora Association for Historic Preservation, PO Box 264, Metamora, IL 61548.

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