History of SVMS

  • St. Vincent Martyr School, established in 1848, was originally located in the basement of a church on Ridgedale Avenue and then in 1866 was moved to a new structure on Park Avenue. Reverend Bernard J. McQuaid (1848 – 1853), born in NYC, was an extraordinary pastor who became acquainted with the Sisters of Charity of New York. Later he was ordained a priest and then taught during the first year of St. Vincent Martyr School’s existence before turning it over to lay teachers. One of McQuaid’s successors, Reverend Michael Madden, built the small brick school on Park Avenue, which later became the site of the Knights of Columbus. Lay teachers conducted the school until 1860 when the Sisters of Charity took over. The teaching sisters came from the local Sisters of Charity motherhouse in a carriage called the “Black Maria,” and were labeled the “Village Maidens.” Soon they witnessed the early student population rise to 180.

    The school at its present site, which sits on Green Village Road, was constructed by Reverend Joseph McDowell and finished by Reverend John Lambert. The architect sought to complement the church by giving the school pointed arches and stained-glass windows. It originally had five classrooms but in 1926, more were added, bringing the number of classrooms to 11. It was later modernized in 1951 and 1952. The stained glass was eliminated, three new classrooms were added to accommodate a total of 610 students. Later in 1960 a new structure was opened, next to the older structure that was finally demolished. By then, the ceilings in the old building were cracked, and basketball was prohibited in the gym which was on the upper floor.

    Like many Catholic schools, St. Vincent’s not only taught the arts of literacy, but also character development. From its early roots until the Second Vatican Council, the Sisters of Charity and the school had a common destiny. By the end of the twentieth century, the school embraced computer literacy, advanced mathematics, the study of a foreign language from kindergarten through grade six, as well as more traditional studies such as the famed Palmer method of writing. The two upper grades were closed in 1993 due to enrollment problems, and then space limitations prevented later expansion.

    By early 2005, the school had grown to more than 400 students. The school community expressed a need and desire to once again expand the school to include 7th & 8th grades. The first new class of 8th graders graduated from St. Vincent Martyr School in 2011. A new two-story, six-room wing was added to the school to accommodate the burgeoning middle school and was dedicated in 2016. 

    As of 2019, St. Vincent Martyr School has more than 460 students enrolled in preschool through grade 8.