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ST. MARY'S ACADEMY, PALESTINE. St. Mary's Academy on North Tennessee Avenue in Palestine, was built in 1901. In 1965 it was believed to be one of the oldest private schools in Texas; its graduates were scattered nationwide. The first Catholic school in Palestine was established in a small frame house at the intersection of Lacy and North Jackson streets. The Sisters of St. Agnes taught class in two rooms there. The school grew, and in 1882 the Sisters of Mercy, whose motherhouse is Our Lady of the Lake Convent in San Antonio, were teaching in a frame house on North Tennessee Avenue, the site the school occupies today. The sisters purchased the property and set about building a school that would accommodate growth for forty years. It was privately owned by the Sisters of Divine Providence. The school provided a twelve-grade curriculum and took both day and boarding students. In addition to basic subjects, it taught instrumental and choral music, Christian morals, and needlework. It was accredited by the State Board of Education and the Catholic University of America. Students came from Jacksonville, Cayuga, Crockett, Fairfield, and other areas. In 1948 the school closed due to lack of available teachers and the high cost of upkeep, but it was reopened in 1954. This time it had a smaller teaching staff, and its curriculum was reduced to an eight-grade program. Boarding was provided only for elementary-age boys. These changes were well received, and the school continued for another eleven years before being closed permanently. The building and property were purchased by Sacred Heart parish and used for wedding receptions and various other activities.


Sister Joseph A. Dederichs and Sister Rose Mary Cousins, Catholic Schools: Dawn of Education in Texas (Beaumont: Beaumont Printing and Lithographing, 1986).

Lorretta Torma

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Lorretta Torma, "ST. MARY'S ACADEMY, PALESTINE," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 30, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.