Sacred Heart Mission School

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Sacred Heart Mission School
Established 1880
Opened 1880
Closed 1901
Demolished n/a
Current Status In Disrepair/Abandoned
Location 25 miles NW of Ada, Pottawatomie County, OK
Alternate Names
  • Sacred Heart Catholic Indian School
  • Sacred Heart Institute
  • Sacred Heart Boys School
  • Sacred Heart Abbey
  • St. Gregorys Abbey and University


In October 1876, Father Isidore Robot, a Benedictine monk from France, completed a deal with the Potawotami Indians for a tribal grant of land that included a landmark known as Bald Hill, and an olf military trail dating back to 1835. The Potawatomi Nation already had several Catholic Missions on their allotted land and were familiar with the religion. On Sunday, May 13, 1877, the first Mass at Sacred Heart was celebrated. Sacred Heart as a township was not permanently occupied until June 7, 1877, which is regarded as the true founding date of the parish.

The Saint Mary's Academy was established in 1880 for the education of girls, along with a boarding school for boys, the Sacred Heart Institute. By 1884, there was a convent ran by the Sisters of Chartity, 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. In 1884 the Sacred Heart College was established, offering secondary and tertiary education for boys, followed by boys' elementary education in 1926.

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. Historical news accounts report that no one was killed, but 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.

Upon Rev. Robots death in 1937, Rev. Ignatius Jean who had established other Catholic missions across Indian Territory became head of Sacred Heart Mission School. Rev. Jean rennovated and supplied a teacher for the Chickasaw and Choctaw Freedman on the south side of the Candian River, making a deal with them that they would construct the buildings walls out of local timber themselves.

Sacred Heart reverted to use as a priory after all other functions had moved to St. Gregory's College in Shawnee. The priory closed permanently in 1965. The church remains, but most other buildings have been demolished. The site of the sacred Heart Church remains on the US Register of Historic Places.

There are many urban legends surrounding this abandoned site as it is now. Many locals believe that despite to the official history, many children died in the 1901 fire and haunt the grounds to this day.