Sister Belinda Delaney
IWA Logo
Incarnate Word Academy Logo. Courtesy of the Incarnate Word Academy. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
Incarnate Word Academy
Incarnate Word Academy and Convent. Courtesy of the Incarnate Word Sisters Houston. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

INCARNATE WORD ACADEMY. Incarnate Word Academy of Houston, the oldest Catholic school in that city, was founded in 1873 and is located on Crawford Street. It was established by the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament, who came to Texas in 1852 at the request of Bishop John M. Odin, first bishop of the Diocese of Galveston. The sisters brought from their native France an educational competence acquired in more than two centuries of a teaching tradition. In 1989 the school had continued for 113 years without interruption the work of Christian education for which it was established, on its original site in the center of Houston; despite advice to the contrary, the administration chose to remain in the inner city to serve the people there. In 1985 the academy was the only school in the downtown business district of Houston.

IWA Student Class
A Student Class of the Incarnate Word Academy. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

The school facilities have served boarding and day-school pupils, and its educational programs have at different times included kindergarten through senior high. In the mid-1980s the academy was a four-year high school for girls. Religion in practice and theory has first place in the school's curriculum. Its course of studies provides a comprehensive three-track program designed for college-bound, noncollege, and business students. Seventy percent of the graduates enter college, and many of them have achieved distinguished careers in medicine, banking, writing, science, and art. In ethnicity, the student body reflects that of Houston.

Incarnate Word Academy
Incarnate Word Academy with 1984 Additions. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

In 1984 a building renovation project was completed. The new school building, designed by McKittrick, Richardson, and Wallace, Incorporated, is a four-story structure combining functional and aesthetic features. A red-brick building constructed in 1905 and designed by Nicholas J. Clayton has been retained to provide a blend of old and new architecture. The design of the new school was selected by the American Association of School Administrators in 1981 and the American Institute of Architects in 1982 as a representative school design. A notable feature of the new facility is its Learning Resources Center, which houses more than 15,000 volumes and some 10,000 audiovisual materials.

Incarnate Word Academy
Nicholas Clayton's historic building was demolished and a new facility for the Incarnate Word Academy was built in its place, opened in February 2017. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

In 1878 the school was granted a state charter, renewable in ninety-nine years, which allowed it to confer diplomas. The state bestowed this charter on the academy in perpetuity in 1926. Later the school was accredited by the Texas Education Agency. Since 1952 it has been a member of the Southern Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges. It is also affiliated with the National Catholic Education Association. A board composed of school patrons and the administration organizes the school's finances. Students pay tuition, but their payments do not cover the annual budget. Fund-raising projects and donations help to make up the deficit. The IWBS sisters and alumnae administer memorial scholarships to aid students who cannot afford full tuition. With the exception of Title IV appropriations to the Learning Resources Center, the academy receives no federal or state assistance.

The state placed a historical marker on the site of Incarnate Word Academy in 1973 to commemorate the centennial year of the school. On January 14, 1982, the Harris County Commissioners Court, through the courtesy of County Judge John Lindsay, commended the academy for its contribution to the growth of the community. Enrollment in 1990–91 was 217.

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Sister Belinda Delaney, "INCARNATE WORD ACADEMY," accessed June 19, 2019,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on April 6, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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