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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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SACRED HEART SCHOOL. Sacred Heart was a Catholic school that was formally opened on January 15, 1881, with an enrollment of one hundred fifty-four students. The classes were taught by Franciscan Sisters from Dubuque.

Within eight years, crowded conditions led to the construction of a new church. The second floor of the first combination school-church building was remodeled into four classrooms. Additional classroom space was provided in 1891 by the construction of Marquette Hall.

Sacred Heart had the unique tradition for many years of having a layman principal. This person also acted as the church organist and teacher for the upper-grade boys. Beginning in 1952, the principal of Sacred Heart was a Sister.

The continued growth in parish population brought the school enrollment in 1912 to seven hundred. Classes were held on the ground floor of the rectory, in the first Marquette Hall, Sisters' convent, and every available room in the Pape Memorial Building. Beginning on March 19, 1915, work was started on a new school, designed by Fridolin HEER and Son, that was dedicated one year later. On March 20, 1916, five hundred students began classes in the new school with the remaining classes held in the Pape Memorial.

A ninth grade for boys was started by Monsignor Boeding in 1930. Tenth grade was added two years later. Enrollment reached as high as seventy students, but because of a teacher shortage, the high school was discontinued in June 1949. Students of high school age attended St. Joseph's, ACADEMY OF THE VISITATION (THE), St. Columbkille's High School, or LORAS ACADEMY until the opening of WAHLERT CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL in 1959.

Near the end of WORLD WAR II, Sacred Heart experienced its last population surge when families were attracted to the area with the construction of XAVIER HOSPITAL. Enrollment reached nine hundred students in 1953 and 1,020 excluding kindergarten in 1956. The fifty-five-year-old kindergarten had to be discontinued in 1957 due to the lack of classroom space. Population in the parish declined with the founding of RESURRECTION SCHOOL in Asbury and the opening of new residential areas near Wahlert.

Sacred Heart financed 12.6 percent or $440,000 of the total building cost of Wahlert High School. The school, from 1953 to 1957, was a laboratory school affiliated with LORAS COLLEGE, for the use of Franciscan teachers enrolled in teacher education.

In 2018 Sacred Heart School was placed on the NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES.