St. Mary's Academy

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St. Mary's Academy
Established 1880
Opened 1880
Demolished No
Current Status Preserved
Building Style Cottage Plane
Location Asher, OK
Alternate Names
  • St. Mary's at Sacred Heart Institute


In October 1876, Father Isidore Robot completed a deal with the Potawotami Indians for a tribal grant of land which included the current site of Sacred Heart Mission.

The Saint Mary's Academy was established in 1880 near Asher, OK for the education of girls, along with a boarding school for boys, the Sacred Heart Institute. By 1884, there was a convent, a school for the girls, stables, employees' houses, blacksmith shop, tool house, carpenter shop, and a bakery-where the Sisters baked 500 French loaves each day. A model farm - with a great variety of orchards, gardens, vineyards, fields, herds of animals and every form of agriculture was developed. The farm had two main purposes: to supply food for the institution and to provide a model for the Indian boys to copy. The mission had its own publication, the Indian Advocate, which was published from 1888 to 1910 in the bakery building.

On the night of January 15, 1901, a fire broke out in the dining room of the Indian Boys School and swept out of control. Before it was over the blaze had destroyed the monastery, boys' school, college, girls' school, convent, and the church. The entire mission was destroyed with the exception of a few small buildings. The bakery and the two-story log cabin are the only buildings that remain today. Temporary wooden buildings were set up to carry on the boys' school, while the Sisters of Mercy moved one-quarter of a mile southeast to create a new St. Mary's Academy. Mass was celebrated in a converted granary. The present church was begun in 1905, but was not completed until 1914. Both St. Mary's Academy and Sacred Heart closed in 1965 and were listed on the National Registry of Historical Places in 1983. Today the most significant building on the site is the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, completed in 1914. It is located at the top of Bald Hill, represented as the highest point in Pottawatomie County. The church is an example of a restrained style of Gothic Revival, with a red tile roof and a stumpy front tower. Nearby are two cemeteries, one for the sisters and one for the abbey. Other buildings include one and two-story log houses dating to the late 1800s and a two-story sandstone bakery. The foundations of the school buildings and other structures are visible as well.