The Academy of the Holy Names was established in 1881 by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. We are one of many schools begun by this congregation of women religious during the 19th and 20th centuries in Canada and the United States. The Sisters envisioned a Catholic education that would empower children and youth to unlock their God-given gifts and develop their full human potential for the transformation of society.
Through decades of education ministry, the Sisters of the Holy Names have shared their charism—a gift from God for the good of God’s people—from Blessed Marie Rose Durocher, who founded their community in 1843 in rural Quebec. A woman of hope, Blessed Marie Rose inspired her Sisters with a caring hospitality, a discerning heart, and a faith deeply rooted in God’s love. She promoted an education in the faith rooted in the Gospel and a special concern for those who are poor and marginalized.
Blessed Marie Rose, obtain for us today the audacity of Faith, the simplicity of Hope, the power of Love, that we may actualize the words of Jesus: I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and would that it were already kindled.
- The Florida Mission
- The First Century
- The New Millenium
- The Mission Inspires and Continues
- Historical Timeline
The Congregation’s first Florida mission began in Key West, where the Convent of Mary Immaculate opened in 1868. Kate Jackson, one of Tampa’s notable female philanthropists and civic leaders, had graduated from the Convent of Mary Immaculate in 1873. Out of admiration for the Sisters, she campaigned to have them start a school in Tampa. On July 16, 1881, two Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, Sisters Marie Augustine and Marie Maurice, departed from Key West to open a new school in Tampa.
In April 1889, the site of the school was moved to a two-story building at the corner of Franklin and Harrison Streets. In 1891, the late Bishop John Moore, the second Bishop of St. Augustine, purchased property on Twiggs Street, where a larger building that served the community for 34 years was built. By this time, enrollment had filled eight full grades and a complete high school.
In 1925 the school's name changed to the Academy of the Holy Names. Further growth necessitated larger accommodations, so the school was moved to temporary quarters on Central Avenue while the present building on Bayshore Boulevard was under construction. Bishop Barry of St. Augustine laid the cornerstone in 1928, and Florida's Governor-elect Carlton spoke at the ceremony. The following September saw the opening of the new school under the leadership of Mother Mary Ethelbert, but financial difficulties halted building progress before the structure was completed. However, with increasing enrollment, the growth of the school continued.
The building was completed, and by 1952 two new school wings were added, along with the Chapel and auditorium. A separate boys' division for grades 1 through 8—the Boys Academy—was established in 1962 with Sister Robert Marie as principal. In 1968, Sister Mary Glavin, SNJM was appointed as the first principal for the girls' lower division, and in 1970, a kindergarten was added.
Throughout its first century, the Academy of the Holy Names also served as a home for student boarders, particularly young women from Cuba and Central America. In response to changing needs, boarding was discontinued in 1974.
1891: Groundbreaking for the new Convent School at Twiggs and Morgan Streets is assisted by Bishop Moore amidst anti-Catholic protest.
1929: The Academy of the Holy Names opens on Bayshore Boulevard.
Change and growth characterized the education institution in its second century, marked by a new leadership structure in 1985 in which Sister Elizabeth Crean served as the first president of the Academy of the Holy Names. Then, in 1989, the provincial of the New York Province of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary approved the recommendation that the Boys Academy and the elementary division of the Academy of the Holy Names be combined into one coeducational elementary school with the unification led by Sister Ann Regan.
The high school remained the only all-girls college preparatory high school along Florida’s West Coast. Faithful to educating those from underprivileged means, the Academy's first Link Scholars, who were supported on full scholarship, began their freshman year in 2007.
The Academy of the Holy Names continually developed its facilities, programs, and services for students in light of the changing needs of the times. Construction for the Bailey Family Center for the Arts was completed in the spring of 2017 under the direction of President Arthur Raimo. The building was blessed and opened that April. Subsequently, the former arts and media center building was renovated into the Prince Family Middle School, designed with 21st-century instructional strategies in mind: glass-walled classroom entries, common spaces, and flexible seating.
Nearing 100 years in age, the Bayshore building underwent its renovation from May 2019 through August 2022, updating the entire electrical and plumbing infrastructure. Beginning with the top floors, walls were gutted and skylights restored to create classrooms and common spaces with ample natural light for student-driven and collaborative learning. In 2020, the high school science labs were remodeled, and an engineering room and maker lab were added to the instructional space. Lastly, the first-floor renovation of the lower division and clinic, along with updates to the Campus Ministry area were completed in the summer of 2022.
Academy of the Holy Names has been blessed with a legacy of religious and lay leaders, gifted teachers, and generous benefactors who believed in its mission and continued to bring it to new fruition. Celebrating this legacy, a Heritage Center opened in the fall of 2016, where the former ambulatory connected the Bayshore building to the Blessed Marie Rose Chapel.
This central welcoming space honors the history of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in images, word, and artifacts. It highlights their contributions to Catholic education in Florida and tells the Academy of the Holy Names' story. This rich history continues to inspire lay leaders who carry forth the mission and charism established by the Sisters of the Holy Names in today's education ministry.
Below is a record of the Sisters and their journey to establish the Academy of the Holy Names as it is known today.
Below is a historical timeline of the Sisters and their journey to establish the Academy of the Holy Names as it is is known today.
|Eulalie Durocher (Blessed Marie Rose) is born in Quebec on October 6.
Eulalie Durocher (Blessed Marie Rose) initiates the first Sodality of Our Lady, a religious community service group for children and young girls in Canada.
Sister Marie Rose Durocher founds the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) in Longueuil, Quebec.
|Mother Marie Rose dies on October 6, her 38th birthday.
|Sisters stop in Key West, Fla., on their journey to open a school in Portland, Ore.
Reverend J.B. Allard, pastor of St. Mary of the Sea Parish in Key West, negotiates for SNJMs with Mother Marie Stanislaus, Superior General, to establish the Convent of Mary Immaculate. Sister Mary Felecite is the first Superior.
Sisters establish St. Francis Xavier School for African-American boys and St. Joseph School for Caucasian boys in Key West, Fla.
|Sisters briefly operate a school for the Blessed Sacrament Parish in Tallahassee, Fla. A failure of the cotton crop ruined the economy and forced the Sisters to close their second foundation in 1874.
|Sisters establish Our Lady of Mercy School for Hispanic girls in Key West, Fla. It is closed in 1878 because of low enrollment.
|Sisters Mary Augustine and Mary Maurice open their first Tampa convent in a stable on the corner of Twiggs and Marion Streets, and their first school in a blacksmith’s shop on the corner of Zack and Franklin Streets.
The Sisters earmark a lot on Twiggs Street and Central Avenue for a new school and convent.
|With a loan of $2,500 from Bishop Moore, the Sisters secured the Twiggs and Central lot and began construction of a convent and school.
|The Convent of the Holy Names moves temporarily to the corner of Franklin and Harrison Streets.
|Groundbreaking for the new Convent School at Twiggs and Morgan Streets begins amidst anti-Catholic protest. The school remains at this location for the next 34 years.
|The Jesuits purchased property on Morgan Street to establish a school for the children of Tampa’s African-American community, under the title of St. Peter Claver. Sisters Mary Germaine and Marie Aurelie began classes on Feburary 2 with 16 pupils. Arsonists set fire to the school on February 14. Amidst threats from the white community, the Sisters continued classes. The Jesuits purchased property on Scott and Governor Streets, where the school resides today, to rebuild.
Port Tampa City leases the Old Printery (Graham Lottery Building), built in 1893 for $48,000, to the St. Louis Catholic Benevolent Group for use as a Catholic school.
Sisters open St. Ignatius School in Port Tampa. It remains in operation until 1901. During the Spanish-American War, it serves as a supply base, and then returns for use as a private school until 1906. The building continues as a public school until 1926 when it was razed to make room for West Shore High School.
Sisters Mary Emeline and Mary Hubert open St. Joseph’s School for Hispanic children in West Tampa at the corner of Albany and Spruce Streets. The school is later renamed Academy of the Holy Names.
Tampa railroad terminal and port is built.
St. Ignatius Church is built in Port Tampa City, a mission of St. Louis Church and the Jesuit Fathers.
Sisters form the first American Sodality of our Lady at the Convent School.
Mother Katherine Drexel, foundress of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in Philadelphia, donates an inheritance sum to St. Peter Claver’s. Mrs. Edward Morrell, her sister, establishes the school library and aides construction of the first St. Peter Claver Church.
|The Convent School students initiate the “Alma Mater Literary Society,” which entertains clergy, teachers and friends with programs such as “Post Priest of the South.” Members began “AM Quarterly,” the forerunner of “Excursions Literary Magazine.”
|“Loyal Legion” Alumni Association is initiated. Kate Jackson (1873 Key West graduate) is the first officer. She chooses Easter Monday as the Annual Reunion Day.
Sisters experience the anti-Catholicism of Florida Governor Sidney J. Catts for wearing “a robe of the Pope.” He declares no Catholic may teach in public schools.
|Sisters purchase five-plus acres of Cuesta family property on Bayshore for $17,500.
A financial campaign for a new convent and college is initiated by Mr. D.B. McKay, former mayor of Tampa and owner of the Daily Times newspaper. A total of $104,000 is raised.
|Sisters purchase land at the corner of Central and Michigan Avenues for $28,500.
Sisters protest a law in Oregon forbidding Catholic schools and win their case, Pierce vs. a Society of Sisters, before the United States Supreme Court.
|The Convent School is renamed the Academy of the Holy Names.
|The Twiggs Street property is sold to Rupert & Bortz of Red Bank Coal Co. of Pittsburgh for $625,000 to purchase 11.5 acres on Bayshore Boulevard for a future school. Contract for the new Academy was awarded to Messrs Ditmars & Reilly Architects of New York, N.Y.
|The Academy of the Holy Names moves to Central and Michigan Avenues and remains there until its new building is completed on Bayshore in 1929.
|The first school newspaper, “Inkwell,” is published.
|Bishop Patrick Barry lays the cornerstone for the Academy of the Holy Names on Bayshore Boulevard.
|The Academy of the Holy Names opens on Bayshore Boulevard.
|The Mothers Association is established.
|Tampa’s Sacred Heart Parish opens a coeducational elementary school, Sacred Heart Academy, staffed with Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.
|First State of Florida Sodality Convention is held at Sacred Heart Academy.
|Sacred Heart Academy opens a parish high school for young women.
The Central Avenue school closes.
|St. Ignatius School in Port Tampa City closes after 50 years.
A contract for additions to the Bayshore campus is signed in the office of Mr. John Twomey by Sr. Mary Esterwin, SNJM, Superior and president of the Academy of the Holy Names Corporation, and Sr. M. Jane Frances, SNJM, provincial supervisor of studies and secretary of the corporation.
|AHN adds two new wings to the main four-story structure, as well as an auditorium and the existing chapel.
On February 20th, the blessing of the chapel and consecration of the altar under patronage of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus takes place. Relics of St. Agatha and Sr. Maria Goretti are placed in altar stone. Bishop Thomas J. McDonough, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of St. Augustine, is assisted by Rev. M.J. McLaughlin, pastor of Christ the King Church, and Rev. Aloysius Goldspeed, S.J. from New Orleans. The Master of Ceremonies is Rev. William Debois, assistant pastor of St. Paul’s Church in St. Petersburg, Fla. Having blessed the new chapel, Bishop McDonough reminds the Sisters of the parallel between their work and that of St. Theresa.
|The Boys Academy opens on MacDill Avenue Campus.
|The Dads Club is established.
|First AHN elementary school principal, Sr. Mary Glavin, SNJM, is appointed.
|AHN kindergarten opens on the MacDill campus.
|Sacred Heart Academy closes its high school for young women after 40 years.
|AHN boarding school closes.
|Sr. Irene Brunelle, SNJM, establishes the Holy Names Alumni Association with AHN and Sacred Heart High School alumni.
|The Sisters’ and AHN’s 100th anniversary is dedicated by an historic marker.
|Mother Marie Rose is beatified by Pope John Paul II in Rome, becoming Blessed Marie Rose Durocher.
|First AHN president, Sr. Elizabeth Crean, SNJM, is appointed.
|Boys Academy and Academy of the Holy Names combine their elementary schools, with Sr. Ann Regan, SNJM, as principal.
The Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary and the Academy of the Holy Names articulate their mission statement.
|AHN’s Frank V. and Grace G. Giunta Gym is dedicated.
The Holy Names Alumni Association establishes a formal alumni board and bylaws.
First AHN lay middle school principal, Dr. Carmen Caltagirone, is appointed.
|Second AHN president, Dr. Claire M. Helm, is appointed.
|Early Childhood Education Center opens on the MacDill campus.
|First AHN High School lay principal, Mary Johnson, is appointed.
|Third AHN president, Colleen K. Brady, is appointed.
|Bridge to the Future campus master plan commences.
|Bridge to the Future campus master plan is completed.
|Fourth AHN president, Jacqueline Landry, is appointed.
|AHN celebrates its 125th anniversary.
|Fifth AHN president, Dr. Harry Purpur, is appointed.
|Sixth AHN president, Arthur Raimo, is appointed.
|The Academy celebrates the 200th birthday of Blessed Marie Rose Durocher.
|Sacred Heart Academy Elementary School closes after 80 years.
|Seventh AHN president, Kevin P. Whitney, is appointed.
AHN celebrates its 140th anniversary.
Renovations of the main Bayshore building are complete with the transformation of the first floor classrooms into modern academic learning spaces.