“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Portsmouth, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Saint Paul's School


Saint Paul's School Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, January 30, 2021
1. Saint Paul's School Marker
Upon her death in 1888, Mrs. Eliza Burke Gregory bequeathed $10,000 for the education of boys in Portsmouth. Her church, St. Paul's Catholic, had established a girls school, St. Joseph's, on King Street in 1876. The current site was selected, purchased, and a handsome two story brick structure was constructed in Italianate style. It featured a slate roof and an entrance tower with a marble plaque above its double doors. The school opened in September 1892, administered by three Xavierian brothers with 60 boys in elementary grades, and the term "Academy" was adopted. The boys school was to be under the management of persons of the Catholic faith. But "Be Open to Scholars of all Denominations."

Enrollment grew steadily. By 1930 there were brothers and 213 boys. Its reputation also attracted many non-Catholic students. In 1931, teaching responsibilities were assumed by the Sisters of Charity serving at St. Joseph's. Both schools became co-educational. In 1948, St. Paul's became the high school, and St. Joseph's the Elementary.

In 1957, a major modernization was completed. The tower was removed and the original 1891 structure
Saint Paul's School Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Wintermantel, February 12, 2014
2. Saint Paul's School Marker
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was covered by a modern façade. Only the south wall remained visible. In 1959, St. Paul's became the first integrated school in Portsmouth. Its final name change "Portsmouth Catholic High School," occurred in 1964. By 1991, enrollment declined from 220 to 74 students. Upon closing on May 29, 1991, it was one of the oldest operating Catholic high schools in the nation.

The school sat empty until 1996, when it was purchased by Monumental United Methodist Church to create needed parking. Monumental ceded the portion of the property containing the original building to the city of Portsmouth in 2001, and an agreement was reached to save the historic building. The modern façade and additions were removed.

In 2005, the school was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Ernest R. Holloway. A detailed restoration was undertaken costing $750,000. This included repairs to the original slate roof, rebuilding the entrance tower, and restoration of the original maple floors and ornate diagonal beadboard ceilings. The location of the original staircase was discovered and it was recreated. The marble plaque above the main entrance was found and returned to its original location.

Aubrey C. Brock of Portsmouth was the restoration architect. Professional Contractors Group, owned by the Holloways, completed the restoration work.

During its 100 years of existence, over
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13,000 students graduated and went on to enrich their lives and the quality of life in Portsmouth.
Erected 2014 by The Olde Towne Foundation.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Churches & ReligionEducation. A significant historical month for this entry is May 1887.
Location. 36° 50.194′ N, 76° 18.228′ W. Marker is in Portsmouth, Virginia. Marker is at the intersection of Washington Street and London Street, on the right when traveling north on Washington Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Portsmouth VA 23704, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. St. John's Church (within shouting distance of this marker); St. Paul's Catholic Church Burial Ground (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church (about 300 feet away); Priests Who Died In Their Service Memorial (about 400 feet away); Monumental Methodist Church (about 500 feet away); Rev. Francis Devlin (about 600 feet away); Richard Dale, U.S.N. (about 600 feet away); Lincolnsville (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Portsmouth.
Credits. This page was last revised on January 31, 2021. It was originally submitted on February 13, 2014, by Mike Wintermantel of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 359 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on January 31, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.   2. submitted on February 14, 2014, by Mike Wintermantel of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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May. 18, 2021