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Belleville Academy of Immaculate Conception - 1884

The image shown on the left shows all that remained of the Belleville Academy of Immaculate Conception after the horrific fire that totally destroyed the three-story building and claimed 26 lives on January 5, 1884.

In 1846 the Rev. G. H. Ostlangenberg organized a school in the basement of the church for the children of local Catholic families. Although having few competent teachers and very little money, Rev. Ostlangenberg firmly established the school. He was succeeded by Alton Bishop Peter Baltes who took up a collection to build a convent and school for the girls of the congregation. St. Peter's congregation gave $5,000. The citizens of Belleville gave $800 and the Sisters of the Mother House in Milwaukee made up the rest of the $8,437 cost. The building opened its doors with seventy-five pupils on October 5, 1859, as the "Young Ladies' Academy of the Immaculate Conception" under charge of Sister Mary Jerome as Mother Superior who, along with two Sisters that accompanied her, not only had to teach but had to finish and furnish the structure out of their own means.

In volume two of the "Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois," it is written that the institution gradually "increased in magnitude, efficiency and importance and, in time, it became a favorite school with parents desirous that their daughters should have the best opportunities for polite instruction." It's little wonder that four years after opening an addition was added that nearly doubled the building's size. Originally built with dimensions of 107'x40' the structure measured 180'x100' when the massive addition was completed.


- Newspaper Accounts -





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