The History of Danville St. Mary Academy
Danville (population: 34,000) is located in eastern Illinois, just a few miles west of
the Illinois-Indiana border along the Vermilion River, which attracted settlers due to its salt springs. Interstate 74 travels
thru the area, as does US Routes 136 & 150 and Illinois 1. The community is named for Dan
W. Beckwith, who donated land along with Guy W. Smith in 1827 to found the city. Some of its famous natives include entertainers
Dick & Jerry Van Dyke, actor Gene Hackman, cabaret singer Bobby Short, dancer Donald O'Connor, and Baseball Hall of Famer
St. Mary's Academy was opened as an all-girls' boarding school within the confines of St.
Patrick's Grade School in Danville in 1891 by the Sisters of the Holy Cross from Holy Cross, Indiana. The school's main
purpose at the time was to provide an education that focused on social graces for young ladies in a Catholic setting.
Over time, the school also accepted day students, but was small in its enrollment. St. Mary's is believed
to have closed its doors in the spring of 1912 once the Holy Cross order left Danville. Today, both males and females can
still receive a high school education in a Catholic atmosphere in Danville as Schlarman High School (opened in 1945 in the
St. Patrick's building) serves that purpose.