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Mount Saint Mary's Academy and Convent
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
California Historic Landmark #855
Mount Saint Mary's Convent and Academy is located in California
Location: 410 South Church Street
Grass Valley, California
Coordinates: 39°12′53″N 121°4′3″W / 39.21472°N 121.0675°W / 39.21472; -121.0675Coordinates: 39°12′53″N 121°4′3″W / 39.21472°N 121.0675°W / 39.21472; -121.0675
Built/Founded: 1865 or 1866
Architectural style(s): Renaissance, Gothic
Governing body: Private (Grass Valley Historic Preservation Committee)
Added to NRHP: May 3, 1974[1]
Designated CHL: 1972-04-24
NRHP Reference#: 74000543
CHL #: 855

Mount Saint Mary's Convent and Academy (also known as Mount Saint Mary's Academy and Convent and previously Mount St. Mary’s Convent and Orphan Asylum; originally Sacred Heart Convent and Holy Angels Orphanage), located at 410 South Church Street between Chapel and Dalton Streets, in Grass Valley, California, commemorates the Sisters of Mercy,[2] and is the only extant original orphanage in California.[3] The building currently functions as the Grass Valley Museum.[4][5]



Katherine Russell (sister of Charles Russell, Baron Russell of Killowen and better known as Mother Mary Baptist Russell, or simply "Mother Baptist") arrived in San Francisco with seven other Sisters of Mercy on 1854-12-08[6] from Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland; other Sisters followed.[7] On 1863-08-20, spearheaded by vicar-general Father Thomas Dalton,[8] five Sisters, including Mother Baptist,[9] arrived in Grass Valley to help the California Gold Rush miners' orphans. Bishop Eugene O’Connell placed the cornerstone for the convent/orphanage building on Sunday, 1865-05-02. The Sisters moved in on 1866-03-20, and the first orphans were taken in on 1866-04-02.[3]

The orphanage closed in 1932 and the facility was de-sanctified in 1968. The following year, in 1969, the Grass Valley Historic Preservation Committee began repair and preservation of the building and the Sisters' rose garden.[10] The Foley Library for Historical Research in nearby Nevada City, California retains historical documents for Mount St. Mary's.[11]


The building is three-stories, and was built at a cost of $19,856, including construction and interior furnishings.

  • First floor - Construction: stone. Use: classrooms, dining room, kitchen, laundry, lavatory, store rooms.
  • Second floor - Construction: brick. Use: chapel, classrooms, library, parlors.
  • Third floor - Construction: brick. Use: dormitories, sleeping quarters, infirmary.

Landmark designation

This Nevada County building is honored as a National Register of Historic Places[2] and California Historical Landmark No. 855, registered in 1972-04-24.[12] The plaque's inscription states:

Mount Saint Mary's Convent and Academy

Built by Reverend Thomas J. Dalton, the Sacred Heart Convent and Holy Angels Orphanage was dedicated May 2, 1865 by Bishop Eugene O'Connell. Under the Sisters of Mercy, it served from 1866 to 1932 as the first orphanage of the Northern Mines. It functioned as an academy from 1868 to 1965 and as a convent from 1866 to 1968.[12][13]

The plaque was placed on the building 1972-10-28 by the California Department of Parks and Recreation.[14]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15.  
  2. ^ a b "Women's Progress Commemorative Commission". Women's Progress Commemorative Commission, National Park Service. pp. 6. Retrieved 2008-07-28.  
  3. ^ a b "Mount St. Mary's Convent and Orphan Asylum". Retrieved 2008-07-28.  
  4. ^ Evans, Ron (September, 1998). "A Queen and an Empire". Retrieved 2008-07-29.  
  5. ^ "Grass Valley Museum". Retrieved 2008-07-29.  
  6. ^ Sly, Julie (2007-10-06). "Sisters of Mercy celebrate 150 years of service in state". Retrieved 2008-07-29.  
  7. ^ Sanfilippo, Helena (2003-05-16). "The Sisters of Mercy's California Adventure" (pdf). Retrieved 2008-07-29.  
  8. ^ Herbermann, Charles George (1913). The Catholic encyclopedia; an international work of reference on the constitution, doctrine, discipline, and history of the Catholic church. New York: Universal Knowledge Foundation. pp. 294. OCLC 6974688.  
  9. ^ Westlund, Nancy (2001-02-03). "Mercy Sisters leaving Grass Valley after 138 years of service". The Catholic Herald. Retrieved 2008-07-29.  
  10. ^ Minch, Patricia L. (2008-06-13). "Secret garden revealed". Retrieved 2008-07-29.  
  11. ^ "Interactive Discussions: Nevada County History and Ancestors". Nevada County Historical Society. June, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-29.  
  12. ^ a b "MOUNT SAINT MARY'S CONVENT AND ACADEMY". Retrieved 2008-07-28.  
  13. ^ "NO. 855 MOUNT SAINT MARY'S CONVENT AND ACADEMY". Retrieved 2008-07-28.  
  14. ^ "California Landmark 855". Retrieved 2008-08-01.  

External links



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