Rivermont Collegiate (formerly known as St. Katharine's St. Mark's Independent College Preparatory School) is a nonsectarian, independent, multicultural, college preparatory school for students - preschool through twelfth grade. It is the only nonsectarian, independent school in Iowa, located in the heart of the Quad Cities in Bettendorf, Iowa (three hours west of the Chicago area, where Interstate 74 crosses the Mississippi River).
Rivermont Collegiate provides a broad range of intellectual, physical, artistic, and cultural activities that challenge students to develop values, to prepare for leadership, and to aspire to excellence in an American democracy. Rivermont Collegiate has a 100% college acceptance for all graduating seniors, and is for above average students who desire to be in a strong academic environment.
Rivermont Collegiate is currently a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS), the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB), Council for Advance and Support of Education (CASE), and the National Honor Society (NHS).
In 1846, a group of transplanted New England Congregationalists with a strong social-reformer orientation formed the Trustees of Iowa College. Although founded in Davenport, Iowa, Iowa College moved from its Davenport location to the town of Grinnell after being invited by Josiah Bushnell Grinnell to move to his newly founded town, located at the intersection of two major railroads. The Davenport location was later renamed to Griswold College, after Bishop Alexander Viets Griswold of the Eastern Diocese of the Episcopal Church. Griswold College began growing slowly, adding a theological department, and Kemper Hall (which served as a boy's school).
In 1883, the trustees of Griswold College received a legacy from the estate of Miss Sarah Burr (an eastern churchwoman), for the establishment of a Church School for Christian girls in the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa. These funds were invested in Cambria Place, a magnificent residence designed by a famous architect (who designed the Illinois State Capitol and the Chicago Board of Trade Building), with five acres of land high on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River in Davenport, Iowa. On September 24, 1884, Bishop William Stevens Perry founded St. Katharine's School, which was immediately placed high among college preparatory schools in the country. Meanwhile, Griswold college, theological department and boy's school were forced to close in the 1890s.
The school was originally organized as St. Katharine’s School, an Episcopal boarding and day school for girls. Located at 10th and Tremont Streets in Davenport, the school thrived for over eighty years serving the needs of local girls as well as those from afar. However, St. Katharine’s later dropped its boarding program, became co-educational, in 1968 adding St. Mark’s to its name to reflect the change.
In 1973, St. Katharine's St. Mark's moved to its current location, the former home of Joseph Bettendorf, and by 1980, the school amicably broke ties with the Episcopal Church. Eventually in 2001, the Board of Trustees voted to change the name of the school to Rivermont Collegiate (in order to reduce confusion about its religious affiliation). As the only K-12 independent school in the Quad Cities, Rivermont Collegiate has served the community and its families as an alternative to public and parochial schools since 1884.
The Early Days
The girls at St. Katharines were subject to strict rules. Students were not allowed to have books, magazines, or newspapers delivered without the principal's permission. Students could not keep any food except for fruit. Students couldn't go to town without a parent or teacher, and no student could spend the night out of the building. The only time students could go home was on Thursdays, but only till 8:00 p.m. They couldn't even spend Sundays at home. The girls were not allowed to wear jewelry, big dresses or silk dresses. Also, one hour of exercise was required everyday.
In 1910, the taxpayers of Davenport gave an observatory and telescope to the school but it burned to the ground in a fire.
Meanwhile, local industrialist Joseph Bettendorf was building his dream house, which later became the signature building of Rivermont Collegiate. Mr. Bettendorf, whose Bettendorf Company manufactured truck frames for railroad cars, helped draw the plans English Manor style mansion on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. In 1915, he supervised construction of the mansion, complete with a sweeping terraced lawn overlooking the Mississippi.
Designed for entertaining railroad executives and community members, the house included a stained glass domed conservatory, formal dining room, parlor, music room, and billiard room. The second floor contained several bedrooms, a large sitting room and servant quarters. A ballroom was located on the third floor, and at one time two bowling alleys were located in the basement. The finest craftsmen were hired to work on the interior of the mansion, adding highly polished Italian marble, carved stone, molded plaster and beautifully hand-carved woodwork, doors, paneling and staircases throughout the home.
Rivermont Collegiate's campus consists of six buildings:
The Mansion - The former home of Joseph Bettendorf now houses the upper school and middle school as well as administrative offices. Despite being divided into classrooms and offices, the mansion retains much of its former glory.
Becherer/Central Hall - Rivermont's newest building houses the lower school and early childhood program as well as the auditorium and cafeteria.
The Annex/Wallace House currently houses the music departments, and an upper school FTC robotics team.p
The Carriage House consists of the art, mathematics, and English classes. The Gym serves as a basketball and volleyball court. The adjoining storage room serves as a health classroom and weight room.
The Painter Palace Formerly an art room, this small building is currently used for storage.