NOTRE DAME ACADEMY opened on 10 Sept. 1877. It was founded by the SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME who began an educational tradition which continues to the present. The first classes began in temporary facilities while permanent quarters were being erected at E. 18th St. and Superior Ave. The new building opened 1 May 1878. Sr. Mary Girolama, SND, was founding headmistress. The academy served boys and girls in grades 1-12. In 1880 another building was added, and a boarding school was established. A two-year commercial track was offered, as well as fine arts instruction for adult women. The downtown buildings housed both the academy and the sisters' provincial house and novitiate. With vocations and enrollment increasing, adjustments had to be made. In 1891 the boarding school became a normal school for girls entering the order, and enrollment of boys was limited to those under age 10.
Despite these changes, the downtown facility remained overcrowded, and in 1912 the Sisters purchased the Joseph K. Bole estate on Ansel Rd. at Superior Ave. for a new headquarters building and academy. This second home opened 11 Jan. 1915. Enrollment pressures continued, and further changes were made. After 1920 boys were no longer enrolled. By 1929 enrollment climbed to 940 girls, grades 1-12. Between 1942-1945 the elementary program was phased out, permitting 9-12 enrollment to increase; it peaked at 835 girls in 1952. During the 1950s the Sisters began plans to relocate the provincial house and novitiate to property in Geauga County, and by 1962 the academy remained the sole institution on Ansel Rd. By then, however, the Catholic population was migrating outward, and enrollment dwindled. In May 1963 the Sisters decided to relocate the academy to the Geauga acreage. They sold the "Castle on Ansel" to the Cleveland Board of Education, which operated a junior high there for several years, after which it stood vacant for thirty years. In 1999, the Famicos Foundation, advocates for affordable housing, redeveloped the building into apartments for low-income senior citizens.
In 1963 the third site of Notre Dame Academy greeted 345 girls at 13000 Auburn Rd., Chardon. Classes began in temporary quarters until the permanent building opened 4 Jan. 1965. Enrollment at the new facility reached 955 girls in 1970. In 1986 a Geauga County study revealed the need for a Catholic high school for boys, and the Sisters of Notre Dame began studying the issue. At the same time, trustees of the Cathedral Latin Alumni Assn. (CATHEDRAL LATIN SCHOOL had closed in 1979) were looking to preserve their tradition. On 14 Mar. 1988 the two groups signed an affiliation agreement to create a new school which would represent a "melding of traditions." In June 1988 the graduating class of Notre Dame Academy brought to a close a 111-year tradition. In Sept. 1988 a coeducational Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin School began a new one. The 1991-92 school year marked the first year of fully coed classes in all 4 high school grade levels at Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin.
Updated by Marian Morton
See also CATHEDRAL LATIN SCHOOL.