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Phoebus in Hampton, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Saint Mary Star Of The Sea And Its School

Catholic Education in Phoebus and Fort Monroe

 
 
Saint Mary Star Of The Sea And Its School Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, May 28, 2017
1. Saint Mary Star Of The Sea And Its School Marker
Inscription. The story of Saint Mary Star of the Sea School goes back to 1858 when Chapel of the Centurion was built at Fort Monroe primarily for Protestant services. A group of officers—some of Irish extraction—requested that a Catholic church also be built. After negotiations among the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, the Army Corps of Engineers, and President Lincoln, an agreement was reached that kept the land in government hands while allowing free access for non-military parishioners. The first church, a wooden building, was dedicated in 1860 and was replaced by the present stone structure in 1903. Saint Mary's was the first Catholic parish on the Peninsula.

As the church grew, Father Thomas J. Wilson saw the need for a Catholic school and by 1920 had raised enough funds to start. Three years later, the church acquired "Brightview," a mansion on Mill Creek that had been used as a post-Civil War convalescent hospital and as a hotel, converting it for classroom use.

At the same time, Father William A. Gill wrote to the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia in Nashville, Tenn., to ask whether they could staff the school, and they agreed. The relationship continues to this day. Four sisters, Principal Mary Isabel Rice, Gabrielle Brennan, Mary Rita Cody, and Borgia Cobb, arrived in September 1923, when the school opened
Saint Mary Star Of The Sea And Its School Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, May 28, 2017
2. Saint Mary Star Of The Sea And Its School Marker
its doors to its first student body of just under 100 pupils. It was the first Catholic school on the Peninsula.

The next several decades, especially during the post-World War II baby boom, saw a remarkable growth in student population, reaching a peak of 910 in 1960-61. Throughout the 1950s, major construction projects were undertaken, and several wings were built. Finally in 2004 a gym and cafeteria were added. Today, the school enrolls students from Saint Mary Star of the Sea at Fort Monroe, Saint Joseph in Buckroe, Saint Rose of Lima in Wythe, and Immaculate Conception in Riverdale, as well as from other Catholic churches around Hampton Roads.

(captions)
Saint Mary School etiquette luncheon, an 8th grade tradition.
The 1957 Boy's Basketball team with Rev. Walter P.Sullivan
The first graduating class of Saint Mary School, 1946
All images Courtesy Saint Mary Star of the Sea School
 
Erected 2010 by Bringing History to Life.
 
Location. 37° 0.938′ N, 76° 19.122′ W. Marker is in Phoebus, Virginia, in Hampton. Marker is at the intersection of East Mellen Street and South Willard Avenue, on the left when traveling east on East Mellen Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Hampton VA 23663, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers.
Saint Mary Star Of The Sea And Its School Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, May 28, 2017
3. Saint Mary Star Of The Sea And Its School Marker
At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Camp Hamilton (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Phoebus - The Gateway To The New World (approx. 0.2 miles away); Phoebus (approx. 0.4 miles away); a different marker also named Phoebus (approx. 0.7 miles away); Fort Monroe Arsenal (approx. 0.8 miles away); Hampton Monument (approx. 0.8 miles away); Emancipation Oak (approx. 0.8 miles away); Hampton Institute (approx. 0.8 miles away).
 
Also see . . .  Saint Mary Star Of The Sea School. (Submitted on May 29, 2017.)
 
Categories. Churches, Etc.EducationWar, US Civil
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 17, 2017. This page originally submitted on May 29, 2017, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 56 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on May 29, 2017, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.
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