St. Joseph's Academy

The building at the southeast corner of the site, finished in 1863, is one of the city's oldest, and the oldest outside of downtown. The story goes back even further, to St. Paul's second decade.

In 1851 four nuns of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet arrived in St. Paul – then a muddy hamlet at best – and opened a school in what had been the log chapel that gave the city its name. Among their first pupils was Mary Mehegan, the future Mrs. James J. Hill.

When the school moved to St. Anthony Hill (now Cathedral Hill) in 1863, it was considered so far from downtown that it became a boarding school rather than a day school. Only when the city has grown around it did it become a day school again – for girls only – in 1905. St. Joseph's received an astounding guest in 1879; according to the centennial history of St. Joseph's, the entire body of St. Irinaeus, retrieved from the catacombs of Rome, was interred beneath the altar. (Another version of the facts has it that his remains were destroyed in France by Huguenots in 1562.)

The second most famous resident of St. Joseph's was the nun known as Mother Seraphim, who as Provincial Superior of the order lived there from 1882 to 1930. Mother Seraphim, founder of the College (now University) of St. Catherine, was also sister to Archbishop John Ireland. A high-achieving family.

Those with a sense of history may see in St. Joseph's a symbol of the tradition of Roman Catholic education in St. Paul, one still strong today.

As one can easily see, the school was augmented twice in its original style. The central building went up in 1877 and the large addition to the north in 1931. The school closed in 1971. The Protestant Christ's Household of Faith bought has used the place as a school and living quarters since 1976.