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Date Information

1884

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When Rev. Arthur J. Teeling began as the pastor of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, one of his initial goals was to build a parochial school. In 1873 he bought the site of the Female High School, which was at the corner of Washington and Court Streets, in hopes that it would become the building for the parochial school. In July of 1873 more Court Street property (the First Christian Baptist Church) was purchased by a church member, Elder Pike. In July of 1878 Teeling bought a residence on Court Street. In November of that same year he announced to his parishioners that within a year they would have a Catholic school.

The residence was moved further down Court Street and expanded to create a convent for the nuns who would teach at the new school. The property that Elder Pike had bought was expanded and turned into the Parochial School for Girls. The part of the building that faced Washington Street became the Parochial School for Boys.

The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth in Kentucky came to Newburyport at the request of Rev. Teeling to teach in the schools. The school itself had ten classrooms equipped with new desks, chairs, and blackboards. Five of the rooms were for the boys, and five were for the girls. Six hundred could fit into the first floor hall of the building.

The school opened officially on 4 September 1882 with 520 students, 420 of whom had transferred from surrounding public schools. This had an adverse impact on the public schools of the town. Due to the large exodus of students from public to parochial schools, three of the public schools reported in October 1882 they would shut down. Two years after the school had opened there were seven hundred students enrolled and fifteen teachers.

Several years before the school opened, a new policy had been implemented in the Catholic Church that allowed priests to withhold sacraments from parents who did not send their children to Catholic schools. This policy lasted into the 1890s, which meant that the Immaculate Conception Parochial School was guaranteed to have a large student body for the years that the policy was in place.

In 1945 the Immaculate Conception Parochial School burned down. The fire also destroyed the steeple of the parish church. The fire occurred after school had been let out for the day, so there were only 50 people (children and nuns) left in the building. Those children were attending confirmation and music classes.

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