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A Brief History

1847 Blessed Samuel Mazzuchelli, O.P., am Italian Catholic missionary (and current candidate for sainthood), founds the Sinsinawa Dominican sisters. The priest serves both Native Americans and settlers, founding and in some cases designing and building village churches. His mission takes him from the north shore of Lake Michigan southwest through the Fox and Wisconsin Mississippi river valleys. Today, the Sinsinawans sponsor several schools teaching students from Kindergarten through graduate school, as well as a girls' camp and women's transitional housing. At right: Mazzuchelli as a very young man.


1854   Samuel Marshall of Marshall & Ilsley (later M&I and BMO Harris) Bank purchases the farmland on which Edgewood now sits. His carriage house still exists on campus, and is currently an Edgewood College dorm. When the Marshalls move to Milwaukee, they sell the property to Governor Cadwallader Washburn, who names it Edgewood Villa and uses it as his "country house." Edgewood is a working farm and orchard and, at the time, is far enough out in the country that it does not receive postal delivery -- mail is picked up in town.

1871  The Sinsinawa Dominican sisters founds St. Regina Academy in Madison, a school for both boarding girls and non-boarding boys and girls, near the Capitol at the corner of West Washington and South Henry. (The building, which was across from St. Raphael's Cathedral, no longer exists.) The sisters offer all basic subjects plus three languages and vocal, instrumental and visual arts. In the original advertisements for the school, students of all faiths are welcomed.

1881  After losing re-election, Governor Washburn donates Edgewood Villa  to the sisters and moves to La Crosse to build his lumber business. The school, still called St. Regina Academy, moves into Edgewood. Governor Washburn moves to Minneapolis where his businesses grow to include flour mills, eventually becoming General Mills. Through the 1950s, in the Villa and in other buildings to come, the sisters take in and educate both paying boarders and orphaned girls in need.

1895   The Villa burns in a tragic fire; three students sleeping on the third floor die. A sister is hospitalized after trying to in vain to save them. Less than a year later, the school is rebuilt and reopens under a new name, Sacred Heart Academy at Edgewood. Ads proclaim, "The position of the Academy, aside from the beauty...of the location, assures perfect healthfulness. Its graceful, well-wooded slopes afford ample room for out-door exercise," which is still true today.

1924   At the request of the growing number of the city's Catholic parishes and parents, boys are again admitted. Junior college courses are now offered for girls. In 1927, the original building of current facilities is designed by Albert Kelsey, grandson of Governor Washburn, and opens as Edgewood Academy of the Sacred Heart. The previous building becomes the convent; it can just be seen in the trees at left in this photo.

1928   Athletic Club is organized under the leadership of Coach Earl J. Wilke, who remains at Edgewood High School of the Sacred Heart  building sports programs for 50 years. During the Depression, one lot on the southeast corner of the property is sold to benefactor Leo T. Crowley, who served in FDR's cabinet, on Eisenhower's Civil Rights Commission and as chair of the Milwaukee Road railway. The proceeds go to pay the bills. Over the years, the working farm operations on the Edgewood property slowly cease. The last cows are sold in the '30s. At right: Class of '27

1943  Composer Igor Stravinsky is present in the auditorium at a performance of one of his works by Nadia Boulanger. Music teacher Sr. Edmund Blackwell had studied under Boulanger and Stravinsky in Paris. Helen Hayes is also a frequent visitor to campus during the '40s and '50s; she comes to visit her old school chum, now EHS teacher Sr. Marie Aileen Klein.  At right: Auditorium, renovated 2004-'06.

1953-1955   The younger students move into a new facility, Edgewood Campus Grade School and Edgewood College moves into its own new buildings. During the next 50 years, the high school adds classrooms, a larger cafeteria, a track and field, two gyms, a swimming pool and, most recently in the late 1990s, the jointly used Sonderegger Science Center.

1955  Kathleen O'Connell, O.P., begins her 29-year tenure as principal. After 1984, O'Connell continues to serve on the Board of Trustees until her death in 2000. Before the tenure of Sr. Kathleen, as is common with Dominican Orders, the Sinsinawans have allowed sisters to serve as principal for no more than six years, but the ever-growing school at this point requires consistent leadership. Sr. Kathleen is still the beloved "heart of EHS."

1970  "The Rock" makes its appearance on the EHS campus. It is unearthed during construction of a 1967 addition that makes room for baby boomers. The Rock quickly becomes an outlet for student spirit, trumpeting events like Homecoming, championships and graduation, or even remembering a beloved teacher who has died, like science teacher Joe Zaiman, March, 2004.