Academy of Our Lady of Victory: “Intellect, Heart and Taste”

By 1908 St. Ignatius Academy on Throckmorton Street was overcrowded.

So, the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur bought fifteen acres of the Shaw brothers dairy at the end of the Hemphill Street streetcar line on the south edge of town. The Shaw brothers, with George C. Clarke, had just begun developing part of the Shaw dairy. (In this 1895 county map detail the dairy was well outside the city limit, but by 1908 it was just inside the city.)

olv corner stoneGround was broken for the new academy on March 25, 1909, the cornerstone was laid August 5, and the school for girls—in a grand Gothic revival (red pressed brick with white stone trim) building designed by Sanguinet and Staats—opened September 12, 1910. Clip is from the August 6, 1909 Star-Telegram.

olv almost done 4-29-10 stClip is from the April 29, 1910 Star-Telegram.

The academy, the Star-Telegram wrote on August 7, 1910, is “most pleasantly situated on an eminence in South Fort Worth, and is easy of access to the center of the city by the Hemphill electric car, passing the academy every fifteen minutes.”

Added the Star-Telegram: “The class rooms, music rooms, study hall, dormitories, recreation and dining halls, the long and cheerful corridors are all arranged with a view to health, comfort and convenience and a corresponding vigilance on the part of the sisters for the cultivation of intellect, heart and taste. . . . The academy offers to the graduate who has attained the highest average in all academic branches a $250 scholarship of one year at St. Joseph’s Academy, Lockport, N.Y., where the young lady may at her option follow one or the other of the following courses: Music, art, languages, commercial.”

olv graduation 6-10-11 stOn June 9, 1911 OLV held its first graduation exercise. Miss Katherine Lehane probably was a member of the pioneer Samuels Avenue family. Clip is from the June 10 Star-Telegram.

olv 1914From the 1914 city directory. Note the Rosedale phone exchange.

This aerial photo shows that OLV was largely self-sustaining, with a well and water tank, orchard, garden. One small outbuilding may be a laundry or powerhouse. (Photo from the Shaw family collections of Doug Sutherland and Billy Joe Gabriel.)

Today the 1910 OLV building houses Victory Arts Center, a residence for the creative community.

Some views of the Academy of Our Lady of Victory:

building olv 1look up olv 1

look up olv 1909entry olv 3

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13 Responses to Academy of Our Lady of Victory: “Intellect, Heart and Taste”

  1. kevin Foster says:

    A FWPD “Special Officer” roster from 1910 lists all the Special Officers authorized by the Police Department. Fr. Robert Nolan was an officer for St. Patrick’s downtown while “William Watkins” is listed as a special officer for the “Convent – Hemphill Street”. My best guess is that he was also a priest, just like Nolan.

    • hometown says:

      Well, I’ll be. In the 1970s that woulda been a TV series by Quinn Martin starring Michael Douglas as the priest/special officer and Buddy Ebsen as his parishioner/informant. Just finished a piece on the 1909 July Fourth “riot” at Lake Como. There were two special officers out there when the free-for-all began. They phoned downtown for reinforcements.

  2. Madeleine Myers says:

    Great article. In its last days, OLV offered a very well-rounded and rigorous academic and college preparatory education along with extracurricular activities and especially a grounding in our Catholic faith. My classmates and I are in our seventies now, and many of us still keep in touch and get together, bonded by a spirit that would be rare in public education. Our alma mater served us well throughout our lives.

  3. Christopher Stinnett says:

    Great article on this landmark. I am glad to know it is still standing, although it looks like it needs some new paint and a little TLC.

    My mom and aunt went to school there; mom all the way through two years of college.

  4. Helen Machala says:

    Such a wonderful article!!
    My family attended OLV from the opening in 1910 till closure in 1961 and move to Nolan Catholic. Many precious memories.

    • hometown says:

      Thanks, Helen. I grew up on the East Side, and when people spoke of “Our Lady of Victory” or “OLV,” I had no idea where or exactly what it was. Now I live on the southwest side and pass that lovely campus often and finally know where and what.

  5. Anita Parker says:

    What a legacy. Am proud to be a niece of one of the Sisters. Will keep this article in my folder.

  6. Sister Roberta Hesse says:

    I entered the this convent of Sisters of St. Mary of Namur in 1952. The years consisted of 3 yrs. of Novitiate, 6 yrs until final Profession. Then, in 1967 went to Africa to join my sisters in DRCongo, Rwanda, Cameroon and Tanzania. My last return from Africa was in the fall of 2011. Our building had been sold. The sisters constructed Our lady of Victory Center on 909 W. Shaw St. where many of us live now. My heart is filled with gratitude for both buildings.

    Those are not just buildings, but a home for our sisters where we share our lives, of ups and downs together. The happiness and warmth of our companions, welcomes visitors who search for support in the trials and joy of their lives. We need each others and we need you.

    Thanks Mr. Scott Gorman for mentioning your grandfather, who was a bricklayer, making our former home, stately, even until today. We are proud of your grandfathers participation in making our home beautiful.

  7. Scott Gorman says:

    Always glad to see when a beautiful building is still standing! My Great-Grandfather was a bricklayer and helped built the school. The family story goes that the workers camped on the property when they were building it. Because it was to far from their homes supposedly.

    • hometown says:

      It musta been gratifying to be a mason on a Sanguinet and Staats building. Those two really gave masons a chance to show off.

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