Saint Mary's School (Raleigh, North Carolina)

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For other schools called Saint Mary's, see St. Mary's School.

Coordinates: 35°46′58.11″N 78°39′10.32″W / 35.7828083°N 78.6528667°W / 35.7828083; -78.6528667

Saint Mary's School
Front entrance and main building of Saint Mary's School located in Raleigh NC
Saint Mary's School Logo
900 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC, 27603
Type Private, female
Denomination Episcopal
Founded 1842
Faculty 40
Grades 9–12
Number of students 263
Campus Urban, 23 acres (93,000 m2)
Mascot Saints
Tuition $45,670 (boarding students)
$22,950 (day students)
School colors Columbia/Carolina Blue and White

Saint Mary's School is an independent, Episcopal, college-preparatory, boarding and day school dedicated to academic excellence and personal achievement for girls in grades 9-12. Located in Raleigh, North Carolina, Saint Mary's School is operated as an independent school, and has an historic association with the Episcopal Church and has an Episcopal chapel, St. Mary's Chapel, on the school's grounds. The school formerly operated as Saint Mary's College and educated young women in grades 11-12 and their freshman and sophomore years in college. The school changed to a four year high school in 1998,[1] at which point the name reverted to Saint Mary's School, the original name of the institution when it was founded in 1842.

School information[edit]

The school has 40 faculty members, with 83% holding advanced degrees.[2] Enrollment for the 2013-2014 school year is 265 full-time students, representing 12 states and five countries. The average class size is 13 students.[3]

Among the superlatives assigned to the school include the oldest continuously operated school in Raleigh, North Carolina,[1] the third oldest girl's school in the state,[1] and the fourth oldest girls boarding/day school in the United States.[3]


Founded in 1842 by the Rev. Aldert Smedes, an Episcopal priest, Saint Mary’s School has operated continuously on the same site ever since.

With the support of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, Smedes founded Saint Mary’s as a school for young ladies "designed to furnish a thorough and excellent education equal to the best that can be obtained in the city of New York, or in any Northern school." The school was founded on the site of the Episcopal School of North Carolina, a short-lived school for boys in the 1830s. Three of the present school buildings - East Rock, West Rock and Smedes Hall - formed the original campus. East Rock and West Rock, the first two buildings, were constructed with remnant stones from the construction of the North Carolina state capitol.

History tells us that 13 girls, "The Original 13," arrived on the first day, May 12, 1842. A total of 21 students enrolled for the first session.

During the Civil War, Saint Mary’s became a safe haven for relatives of both Union and Confederate generals, including Robert E. Lee’s daughter and the family of Jefferson Davis. Smedes kept the school operating throughout the war. In 1865, General Tecumseh Sherman’s Union troops camped in The Grove on front campus, and Sherman visited Smedes in the main building.

Today, Saint Mary's School is an independent, Episcopal, college-preparatory, boarding and day school dedicated to academic excellence and personal achievement for girls in grades 9-12. Saint Mary's School remains true to Aldert Smedes' time-honored mission of providing an excellent education for young women.

The historic core of the school's 23-acre campus is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a stop on the North Carolina Civil War Trails. The Saint Mary’s Chapel, designed by Richard Upjohn, is a National Historic Site, and five of the school’s 25 buildings are Raleigh Historic Properties.

For a more detailed history of Saint Mary’s School, pick up a copy of “The Heritage” written by Saint Mary’s professor emerita, Martha Sprouse Stoops.

Outdoor field for sports at Saint Mary's School in Raleigh NC


Saint Mary's buildings date from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and also include antebellum structures individually recognized as Local Historic Landmarks. Three buildings from the 1830s are visible from Hillsborough Street from behind a wooded glade of large oaks, hollies, and magnolias.

The school's oldest structures, East and West Rock, are matching buildings of discarded stone from the building of the second State Capitol in the 1830s. The brick Greek Revival building between them was erected soon after; it was remodeled in 1909 to include a Neoclassical Revival front portico and dormitory wings. This main building was named Smedes Hall for the school's founder, the Rev. Aldert Smedes.

Two buildings erected in the later nineteenth century are Gothic in style: the 1855 Richard Upjohn Gothic Chapel and the 1887 Gothic Revival arts building, a brick structure with pointed-arch windows.

The early twentieth century saw much construction; nearly all the permanent brick buildings, which were rendered in the Colonial Revival style, survive. Later construction continued to complement earlier buildings, and the view of the campus from Hillsborough Street remains notable for its historic integrity.

Saint Mary’s School was listed on the National Register in 1978. Currently, the campus is considered to be part of downtown Raleigh.[1]

See also[edit]


[4] [5]

  1. ^ a b c d "Saint Mary's College". Raleigh, A Capital City: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-12-08. 
  2. ^ "School Profile". Saint Mary's School website. Retrieved 2008-12-08. 
  3. ^ a b "About SMS". Saint Mary's School website. Retrieved 2008-12-08. 
  4. ^ Raleigh National Register Districts-St. Mary's School
  5. ^ National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form

External links[edit]