Frances Donecker

ST. MARY'S HALL. St. Mary's Hall was founded as a girls' school in San Antonio by the Protestant Episcopal Church in 1860. In 1866 the school closed because of a cholera epidemic, and the buildings were taken over for church purposes until 1875, when St. Mark's Church was completed. The property was then deeded back to Bishop Robert W. B. Elliott for school purposes, and in 1879 the school was reorganized with Phillipa G. Stevenson as head. The school was announced as West Texas College for Girls. In 1889 and 1890 St. Mary's Hall offered primary, academic, and college work. The school enrollment increased so greatly that a tent had to be used for classes. In 1889 Elliott Hall was opened, and following years brought further increases both in enrollment and in physical facilities. In 1914 the downtown school was sold and a new site on the corner of Woodlawn and San Pedro streets was opened. In 1924 Ruth Coit became head, reorganized the school, and secured property at 117 East French Street. On her retirement in 1937, the school name was changed to Ruth Coit School; it carried this name until 1940, when it resumed the former name. In 1925 St. Mary's Hall became a nonparochial school under the supervision of a twenty-five-member board of trustees. In 1968 it moved to a fifty-four-acre wooded campus in the northeast suburbs of San Antonio. Its new facilities were designed by O'Neil Ford. As of 1994 school buildings included residence halls, dining halls, two libraries, a fine arts complex, a student activity center, and a sports complex. St. Mary's Hall offers a preschool Montessori program and a lower, middle, and upper school. The enrollment for the 1993–94 school year was 808, with 242 students in the high school. St. Mary's holds accreditation from the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest. It is also a member of the National Association of Independent Schools and the College Board. In 1994 the school was coeducational and had an endowment fund of $16 million. It offered both a day school and a boarding school to secondary students. Boarding was on either a five-day or seven-day basis.

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Handbook of Texas Online, Frances Donecker, "St. Mary's Hall," accessed February 23, 2018,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.