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1905 - The Dream of a Parochial School

1905 - The Dream of a Parochial School

A photo of the original 1905 St. James School, viewing the back of the school from the church parking lot today. The stairway led to the auditorium on the second floor. This school served the parish for many years until the building was torn down in 1947 and replaced by our current school.

Pastor of St. James Parish, Father Tearney, having witnessed the cooperation of his parishioners to build a beautiful church, set his heart on a new parochial school. The original St. James School, surrounded by spacious playgrounds, was built on the corner of West Broad and Spring Streets. The school was a plain, two-story brick structure consisting of three classrooms on the first floor, an auditorium with a stage on the second floor, and the basement contained a heating plant and an area the students could play in bad weather. Each classroom served several grades with a mixed boy/girl class for grades 1-4; an all boy class grades 5-8; and in the largest classroom, an all girls class grades 5-8. The auditorium was the “scene of many happy occasions for parishioners who gathered often, in numbers us to 400, for pot luck dinners, plays, concerts and other parish gatherings.”

During Holy Week of 1906, the Sister of Perpetual Adoration from New Orleans came to West Falls Church. The Sisters were met by the Jesuit Fathers and Brothers from Georgetown College who accompanied them to St. James where they were greeted by Pastor Father Tearney. In September of that year they opened the new Catholic elementary school. One Sister later recalled: “The parochial school was a little rural school without sufficient number of children to occupy two teachers. Tuition had to be kept very low, “for it was, it seems, a very poor locality.”

Tuition was $1 a month for the grade school. A member of the first St. James class recalls enrollment being approximately 35 students. But this image would change as St. James School began to achieve an excellent reputation with growing enrollment.