Clio Logo

St. Mary's Springs Academy was established by the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes in 1909 as a boarding and day school for girls. Classes were held in the former St. Mary's Springs Sanitarium buildings, which were renamed Boyle Hall and St. Agnes Hall. The school began accepting male students in the 1930s and stopped accepting boarders in the 1950s. In 2008, the Fond du Lac Area Catholic Education System (FACES) merged with St. Mary's Springs to create a consolidated PreK-12 system at SMSA.


  • Architect's rendering of St. Mary's Springs Academy, May 1928.
  • St. Mary's Springs Academy with the swimming pool in the foreground, 1930s.
  • St. Mary's Springs Academy campus showing Boyle Hall and St. Agnes Hall on the right, the main building on the left, and in the background, Nazareth Heights- the sisters' infirmary.
  • Science class at St. Mary's Springs Academy, 1940s.
  • Sister Michaela O'Brien teaches a physics class at St. Mary's Springs Academy in the 1950s.
  • Shorthand class in the 1950s at St. Mary's Springs Academy.
  • Sister Agnessa Ruder with the mosaic she created for St. Mary's Springs Academy, 1960s.

In 1902, local businessman John Boyle built a sanitarium on the Niagara Escarpment, which is commonly referred to as the ledge. He donated it to the Sisters of St. Agnes but it was unable to attract enough patients to sustain itself. The two buildings that made up St. Mary’s Springs Sanitarium were renovated by Boyle as a girls’ boarding school to be operated by the sisters and renamed Boyle Hall and St. Agnes Hall. 

St. Mary’s Spring Academy opened on September 9, 1909, and was officially dedicated by Archbishop Sebastian Messmer on October 7. Sister Angeline Kamp was the first principal and the school had a staff of 13 sisters and one chaplain. They started with 17 students, but by the end of the year enrollment had almost doubled. Room, board, and tuition came to $75 per year. The school offered classes for grades one through eight as well as a two-year commercial course and four-year classical curriculum. Art and domestic classes were also offered. The school’s brochure also touted the recreational opportunities for its students stating, “Exercise in the open air during all seasons is indulged in three or four times a day.”

A new four-story main building was constructed in 1929 at a cost of $500,000. It included a chapel, auditorium, and eight-story tower. The new space allowed the school to accept day students who paid annual tuition of $700.

Traditionally, parochial schools educated boys and girls in separate institutions but the Great Depression caused enrollments to decline so Archbishop Samuel Stritch gave the sisters permission to make SMSA co-educational with the goal being to erect a boys’ school when feasible.

The 1940s brought expansion to many facets of the school including the introduction of both football and band programs, a new physics lab, and additional classes such as aeronautics. However, due to increasingly large enrollments, elementary grades were dropped incrementally throughout the decade and the school became exclusively a high school.

Overcrowding continued to affect the school so in 1955, boarding students were no longer accepted. A plan to build a boys’ school was developed in the mid-1960s but never came to fruition. Instead, it was decided to construct a new academic building on campus. 

In October 1969, the sisters entered into co-sponsorship of the school with the Archdiocese and transferred SMS land and property to the new St. Mary’s Springs High School Corporation. The school operated as an archdiocesan high school and was managed by a board of directors comprised of representatives from the 22 Fond du Lac County parishes and the Sisters of St. Agnes.

The new L-shaped 102,000 square foot St. Mary’s Springs High School was dedicated on May 24, 1970. In January 1971, St. Agnes Hall was razed and in October 2005, Boyle Hall was torn down. In 2008, the Fond du Lac Area Catholic Education System merged with St. Mary’s Springs to create a consolidated PreK-12 system and a year later, during its centennial year, the school resurrected the St. Mary’s Springs Academy name.

In 2016, after a two-year construction project, the new St. Mary’s Springs Academy campus opened and was able to accommodate all PreK-12 students in one building.

Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes Archives.

Lorimer, CSA, Margaret. Ordinary Sisters: The Story of the Sisters of St. Agnes, 1858-1990. Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes, 2007.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes Archives

Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes Archives

Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes Archives

Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes Archives

Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes Archives

Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes Archives

Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes Archives