Saint Mary’s Hall: A Legacy of Perseverance

The year 2020 was fraught with events that seemed hard to understand or overcome. The same words kept reverberating around the community: uncertainty, change, challenges, strength, grit, and perseverance. 

How did our ancestors and predecessors deal with seismic shifts in their world? Since 1879, Saint Mary’s Hall has shown resilience in the face of uncertainty.  In one of the only written historical accounts we have of our school, Saint Mary’s Hall: First Century, by Kemper Diehl, we found several examples we thought would be interesting to highlight:

  • May 1900 - A cyclone hit downtown San Antonio, near the SMH Wolfe Hall Campus. Though the students were terrified, everyone was safe and Saint Mary’s Hall sustained minor damage … losing chimneys and electricity!
  • October 1903 - San Antonio was in the middle of a yellow fever outbreak. A teacher was found to be suffering from the fever. The teacher and students were quarantined, and no one else in the school contracted yellow fever.
  • May 1918 – Due to debts and a dropping enrollment caused by World War I, the Diocesan School Board agreed to close Saint Mary’s Hall for the remainder of the war; however, with some help from a local businessman, SMH reopened in September 1918.
  • 1918 - Reports indicate, due to influenza epidemics, Saint Mary’s Hall closed twice during that school year.
  • May 1946 – A polio epidemic hit San Antonio causing city officials to request that area schools close. One student recounts that they were told to “pack up anything we had at the school and to go home – no more school for that year.”

For more than 140 years, the students, faculty, and parents of SMH have overcome many challenges to morph into a school whose legacy is about perseverance and change for the better. To learn more about the history of Saint Mary’s Hall, visit “Our Story” on our website.  

Pictured: Saint Mary’s Hall seniors study outdoors circa 1946 during the era of the Polio epidemic.