Saint Mary's School (Raleigh, North Carolina)

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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
Saint Mary's School Logo 2014.png
Saint Mary's School Logo


TypePrivate, Day & Boarding, College-prep
Religious affiliation(s)Episcopal
Number of students275
CampusUrban, 23 acres (93,000 m2)
Color(s)Columbia/Carolina Blue and White
Athletics conferenceTISAC
Team nameSaints
AccreditationSACS, SAIS
Tuition$54,950 (boarding students)
$27,550 (day students)
St. Mary's College
Saint Mary's School.JPG
Front entrance and main building of Saint Mary's
Saint Mary's School (Raleigh, North Carolina) is located in North Carolina
Saint Mary's School (Raleigh, North Carolina)
Saint Mary's School (Raleigh, North Carolina) is located in the United States
Saint Mary's School (Raleigh, North Carolina)
LocationSt. Marys and Hillsborough Sts., Raleigh, North Carolina
Area16 acres (6.5 ha)
Architectural styleClassical Revival, Late Gothic Revival
NRHP reference #78001981[1]
Added to NRHPDecember 19, 1978

Saint Mary's School is a private independent Episcopal college-preparatory, boarding and day school for girls in grades 9-11. Located in Raleigh, North Carolina, Saint Mary's School operates as an independent school with a historic association with the Episcopal Church including an Episcopal chapel, St. Mary's Chapel, on the school's grounds. The school formerly operated as Saint Mary's College and for many decades 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,[2] 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.[3] Enrollment for the 2016-2017 school year is 270 full-time students, representing 11 states and seven countries. The average class size is 13 students.[4]

Among the superlatives assigned to the school include the oldest continuously operated school in Raleigh, North Carolina,[2] the third oldest girls' school in the state,[2] and the fifth oldest girls' boarding/day school in the United States. Saint Mary's celebrated its 175th anniversary, May 12, 2017.[4]


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 William Tecumseh Sherman's Union troops camped in The Grove on front campus, and Sherman visited Smedes in the main building. From 1906-1908 President Woodrow Wilson's daughter Eleanor Wilson attended Saint Mary's.[5]

Today, Saint Mary's School is an innovative independent, Episcopal, college-preparatory, boarding and day school for girls in grades 9-12.

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.

Saint Mary's Chapel, built in 1856, is a National Historic Site


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 North Carolina 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 of Historic Places in 1978 as a national historic district. The district encompasses nine contributing buildings, including St. Mary's Chapel.[6] Currently, the campus is considered to be part of downtown Raleigh.[2]


Saint Mary's School offers a full interscholastic athletic program consisting of 18 sports teams. Saint Mary's School competes as a member of the Triangle Independent Schools Athletic Conference (TISAC) and the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association (NCISAA, 3A Classification). The following sports offered at Saint Mary's are:

  • Soccer
  • Cross Country
  • Field Hockey
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball
  • Basketball
  • Lacrosse
  • Swimming
  • Track and Field
  • Softball

Notable Alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


[7] [8]

  1. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ "School Profile". Saint Mary's School website. Archived from the original on 2009-01-27. Retrieved 2008-12-08.
  4. ^ a b "About SMS". Saint Mary's School website. Archived from the original on 2009-01-27. Retrieved 2008-12-08.
  5. ^ "Archival Collections at the Library". Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum. Retrieved 2015-05-06.
  6. ^ Mary Ann Lee and Martha Stoops (n.d.). "St. Mary's College" (pdf). National Register of Historic Places - Nomination and Inventory. North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office. Retrieved 2015-06-01.
  7. ^ Raleigh National Register Districts-St. Mary's School[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form

External links[edit]