On August 30, 1890, the Sisters of Ste. Anne arrived at Notre Dame du Sacre Coeur parish. They came at the request of Father Louis LeDuc for the purpose of teaching the children of the parish. At that time, there were about 500 families who were parishioners.
School opened on September 2, 1890 in the basement of the church with 307 pupils. The basement was poorly ventilated and lighting was sparse. It was clear a new school needed to be built. Funds were raised through parishioner donations, bazaars and bake sales.
Building began for the new school in 1897 on a lot next to the church. On August 19, 1898, the parish had an open house to show off the new three story structure. A large number of people toured the building in spite of inclement weather. Refreshments were served on the first and second floors. An orchestra provided the musical entertainment and all the electric lights were turned on throughout the structure. The open house lasted for two days in order to ensure everyone had the opportunity to look things over.
On August 29, 1898, the new school was dedicated by Bishop Beaven of Springfield in a high mass spoken in French. Musical director Joseph Brodeur prepared an elaborate program for the enjoyment of all. Professor LeClair of St. Francis Church played the organ; violins were played by Mr. Monroe and Dr. Canedy; clarinet, Mr. Thompson; flute, Mr. Phillips; cornet, Mr. Nichols; cello, Mr. Frye; bass, Mr. Achart and trombone, Mr. Slater of Cohoes, N.Y.
About a week later on September 6, 1898, overseen by Father Jeannotte, classes officially began in the 15 classrooms, grades 1 through 9. The total student enrollment was about 600. By 1911, the number of students reached its peak at 740.
In 1920, a two-year commercial course began, supported by the City of North Adams and dozens of well-established businessmen. After a long run, this course ended in 1951.
The first Parent-Teacher Group was formed on October 16, 1951 for the purpose of raising money for audio-visual equipment as well as other educational needs. The first president was George Paquin.
With deep regret, the Notre Dame School closed its doors on June 8, 1969 after the school’s enrollment dropped below 220 students. The Parent-Teacher Group, the Parish Council and the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine organized a farewell celebration to honor the Sisters of Ste. Anne.
After the reluctant closing of the school, the building was rented to the city of North Adams Public School Department.
Adapted from a story for the North Adams Historical Society.