I wanted to write something for the 23rd Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy on “School Days”, but I found this topic very difficult. The problem is that I know nothing about the schools my ancestors attended, and worse, I realized I know hardly anything about the schools I attended.
Until now, I really didn’t realize what a gaping hole this subject was in my family history.
I grew up on Park Avenue and South Allen Street in Albany, New York. These addresses within walking distance of the elementary school and high school associated with the Roman Catholic Parish of St. Vincent de Paul. Except for a few months when my younger sister attended Albany High School, all the children in my family attended the Vincentian Institute from K-12.
Vincentian Institute Child Culture Division
Vincentian Institute Child Culture Division (VI-CCD), the K-8 elementary school, opened in 1934 in the former Hawley greenhouses on Morris Street between Main and Partridge. The first classes were actually held in the greenhouses themselves. As the school grew with the increasing population of the baby boom generation, additional classrooms were built. At the time the school was experiencing its largest enrollments in the 1960s, the school consisted of eight classrooms in the “Glass School” (the former greenhouses), two classrooms in the kindergarten building (another greenhouse), two classrooms in a building called “The Barn”, and fourteen classrooms in the newest addition, “The Brick Building”.
In the 1960’s classroom size was about 40 students in each of three classrooms for each grade level 1-8 and somewhat smaller class sizes (about 30 students) in each of two kindergarten classrooms. These days, the classes would probably be considered overcrowded.
The elementary school classes were taught by the Sisters of Mercy, whose convent was on Morris Street, just half a block from the school. A few lay teachers also taught at the elementary school.
The school published a newspaper called “The Lion’s Roar”.
In 1985, VI-CCD closed.
Vincentian Institute High School (VIHS) was dedicated in 1917 at the corner of Madison Avenue and Ontario Street. Martin Henry Glynn, publisher and editor of the Albany Times Union and the first Roman Catholic Governor in the history of New York State, delivered a speech entitled “As Solomon Gave His Treasure” at the dedication of the high school on 24 May 1917.
In 1920, the Sisters of Mercy were assigned to teach at VIHS. The school opened in 1921 and the first graduating class passed through its doors in 1925.
In 1936, four Brothers of the Congregation of Holy Cross joined the faculty of the high school. Brother John Baptist was appointed Superior. He was assisted by Brother Eymard, Brother Lawrence Justinian, and Brother Joel, all graduates of the University of Notre Dame. The Brothers of the Holy Cross continued to teach at VIHS until 1972.
Initially, VIHS operated separate classes for boys and girls; the Sisters of Mercy taught the girls, and the Brothers of the Holy Cross taught the boys. In 1974, classes were combined and VIHS became truly co-educational for the first time.
The school newspaper was called “The Blue Banner”, the school’s sports teams were the Lions, and the school yearbook was called “Crossroads”.
VIHS closed in 1977, and the building that housed the school is now Saint Vincent’s Apartments, a community for senior citizens. Officially, VIHS merged with Cardinal McCloskey High School to form Bishop Maginn High School in the building of the former Cardinal McCloskey High School.
Precious little information about Vincentian Institute is available on the web. I find this surprising since the students and alumni were fiercely loyal to the school. I’m not aware of any published history of the school, although I think there would be a local market for such a publication. Perhaps there’s an opportunity here.
For other posts on the Vincentian Institute, see:
For posts on the Church of St. Vincent de Paul, see:
For posts on the Pine Hills Branch of the Albany Public Library, see:
Copyright © 2007 by Stephen J. Danko