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The first buildings on the site of Saint Charles Seminary were the former buildings of the Emlen Institute. The institute was a board school for African-American youth.
In 1861 the Missionaries of the Precious Blood purchased 200 acres of land and the former Emlen Institute since the institute had failed and the grounds and building had fallen into disuse.
The first building constructed on the premises was called the Old Abbey. In 1878 a new building was constructed and became the seminary. Then, in 1922, the construction of the seminary was completed which replaced a lot of the functions of the Old Abbey and previous seminary. Around this time enrollment peaked at 120 students.
In order to accommodate the retiring priests, which peaked in 1980s and 1990s, the former seminary was converted into a retirement home. The center is now in the process of being converted into a retirement home for lay seniors as well.