Seven Dominican nuns from a Dublin convent came to New Orleans in 1860 to help educate a growing Irish population. Within a month of arriving, the sisters had opened St. John the Baptist School for Girls, with an enrollment of 200.
The following year, the New Orleans Female Dominican Academy on Dryades Street was chartered and three years later, the sisters purchased Mace Academy in Greenville, near Audubon Park. A new campus for the academy, at Broadway Street and St. Charles Avenue, was built starting in 1882.
The Dominicans operated two separate girls’ schools until 1914, when the two programs merged and became St. Mary’s Dominican High School. A college, St. Mary’s Dominican College was also located with the high school at 7214 St. Charles Avenue.
In 1963, the high school was moved to 7701 Walmsley Avenue, where it remains today.
The college remained at the campus on St. Charles Avenue until 1984 when it was closed and sold to Loyola University, which uses it for its law school.
The high school now enrolls about 1,000 students – still all girls, but not all Irish.