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Cartwright, Carol Lohry; Shaffer, Scott; Waller, Randal / City on the Rock River : chapters in Janesville's history
(1998)

8. Education,   pp. 147-164


Page 153

Primary Education, Private
During Janesville's early years, before public schools were well organized, many children
received their schooling in parochial schools. During the 1850s, for example, about half of the
schoolchildren in the city attended parochial schools. And, while this percentage shrank as
the city grew, parochial schools in Janesville have remained important in the primary
education of the city's schoolchildren. Today, there are six large parochial schools in
Janesville, four Catholic and two Lutheran. There are also a few small fundamentalist
Protestant schools in the community, but they do not have historically significant facilities.
The first Catholic primary school in Janesville was affiliated with St. Patrick's Catholic
Church, the oldest Catholic church in the city. Before the Civil War, a parish school was
established at St. Patrick's, taught by Thomas Tracey. After a new St. Patrick's Church
building was completed in 1864, the church's parochial school was conducted in the church
basement by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. The Sisters of Mercy took over the
school in 1870. St. Patrick's constructed a convent for the sisters in that year, and St. Patrick's
School moved to that location (505 Holmes St., not extant). In 1920, a new school building was
constructed at 305 Lincoln St. The two-story school, with a raised basement and some modem
additions, has served as the St. Patrick's Catholic School up to the present time. St. Patrick's
School is potentially individually eligible for the National Register for its association with
historic parochial school education in Janesville and is listed as a contributing resource in the
Old Fourth Ward Historic District. (Souvenir of Diamond Jubilee and Home Coming 1925:n.p.;
St. John Vianney Church-Dedication 1965:24)
The second Catholic parochial school was established at St. Mary's Catholic Church, a
congregation formed in 1875. The school, established in 1913, began holding classes in the old
St. Mary's church building on East Wall Street (not extant), where the Dominican Sisters were
in charge of the educational program. In 1922, the St. Mary's congregation acquired a lot near
the church for a new school building. Additional property was acquired in 1926, and the much-
anticipated new St. Mary's School was built in 1928-1929 at 307 E. Wall St. This large
Collegiate Gothic-style school building continues to house the school today. St. Mary's School
is potentially individually eligible for the National Register for its association with historic
parochial school education in Janesville and is listed as a contributing resource in the Prospect
Hill Historic District. (St. John Vianney Church-Dedication 1965:24,30-33)
Two other Catholic schools have been established in Janesville, attached to churches formed
to serve Janesville's growing Catholic population in the mid-twentieth century. St. William's
Catholic School was built shortly after the establishment of St. William's Catholic Church in
1952. The school was completed in 1954 as a seven-room addition to the church at 1822 Ravine
St. St. John Vianney Catholic Church was established in 1955, and a parochial school building
was completed at 1301 Clark St. in 1956. An addition to the school was completed in 1960.
These two modem parochial schools are not potentially eligible for the National Register of
Historic Places because of their recent construction dates. (St. John Vianney Church-
Dedication 1965:1,35)
There is one historic Lutheran primary school in Janesville associated with St. Paul's Lutheran
Church. German immigrants established St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Janesville in the 1850s.
In 1865, the congregation founded St. Paul's Christian Day School, with 20 children attending
classes held in the church building (not extant). In 1876, the congregation erected their first
school building at the comer of Academy and Van Buren streets (not extant). By 1881, the
school had 80 pupils, and a trained teacher replaced the church pastor as educator. Around
1890, the one-story school building received a second story. This enlarged school served the
congregation until 1925, when plans were made for the erection of a new building across the
Education
153


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