On July 9, 1911, the extraordinary Father Joseph A. Meyer came to St. Mary's parish in Laurel. Shortly thereafter, in 1913, Father Meyer started a parochial school for the children of the parish, and asked the Sisters of Mercy to staff it. Father Meyer named the new school after his own sister, Sister M. Mildred, who was also a sister of Mercy.
Desirous that St. Mildred's should expand, Father Meyer purchased a colonial mansion known as the Tiffany Estate, in October 1917. Names famous in the history of Laurel, The Catholic Church in Maryland, and the political life in the nation are all associated with this original Snowden family mansion and land that was directly across the street from St. Mary's Church.
The mansion, which was the home of the manager of the Laurel Mills, was located just north of the present high school gymnasium. A remnant of the original circular driveway can still be seen. The mansion was modified by the addition of a frame wing to the south side of the main structure, in order to accommodate a convent, school and boarding rooms for girls. The architectural integrity of the beautiful stone and frame edifice was preserved and St. Mildred's Academy became well known for cleanliness, good taste and comfort. The school gained the reputation of being the most homelike school in Maryland, and drew pupils from a wide geographic area.
In 1920, Father Meyer purchased additional acreage close to the Academy with the intention of opening a high school in September of 1921. He applied for additional Sisters of Mercy, but they were unable to supply the desired number of teachers. Thus, the Sisters of Mercy withdrew from Laurel in 1921. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, staffed the elementary and high school from 1921-1934.
In 1934, under the direction of Mother de Pazzi Meurer, the American Province of the Missionary Sisters of the Catholic Apostolate (Pallottines) acquired the ownership of the property and took over the administration of the schools. As well-educated and experienced teachers, the Pallottine Sisters brought with them an innovative and professional character to the schools, which continues to this day.
By 1936, expansion was necessary for the boarding house. Upon completion, the accommodations for boarders increased from 14 to 50. In 1939, the co-educational Academy, under the President/Principalship of Sister Bede Kurth, received accreditation from the State of Maryland. By that year, enrollment had risen from 23 in 1934 to 179.
In 1949, the Academy added two new classrooms, but by 1957, the school had outgrown itself again. The entire 18th century mansion was razed and construction of the present high school was begun. It was thought at that time that the new facility, with a capacity for about 400 students and residence for 30 sisters, would end all the space problems for the future. The new building also brought a change in the name from St. Mildred's Academy to Pallotti High School in honor of the founder of the Pallottines.
Growth and changes continued to take place in society and the Church and the Sisters responded with further adjustments. In 1973, the boarding school was converted to a day care center under the direction of Sister Eileen Conner, who added afterschool care in 1981.
In 1984, the school name was changed again to St. Vincent Pallotti High School. In 1987, a new convent was built at 404 Eighth Street, and the Sisters vacated the large convent section to allow for expansion of both the high school and the day care center. In 2001, the high school expanded yet again with the addition of a new 2-court gymnasium, chapel, multi-media library, fitness center, locker rooms and athletic trainer's suite, administrative offices and conference rooms.
St. Vincent Pallotti High School is accredited by the Maryland State Department of Education, Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and the Association of Independent Maryland & DC Schools.
Religious instruction in the Catholic faith remains a primary focus, and Catholic doctrine and values are integrated into all academic and cultural areas of the school. Students live and experience their faith through participation in liturgy, retreats and service to others. Maintaining its traditional academic excellence, the high school academic program has expanded to include a broad range of electives, a Learning Center, numerous Advanced Placement courses and state-of-the-art technology.
St. Vincent Pallotti High School strives to extend the vision of its patron and of its founder as a unique, thriving and growing leader among Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Washington and the State of Maryland.
Today, Pallotti is an independent, coeducational, college preparatory, Catholic secondary school that offers young men and women the best of both worlds: large enough to boast a wide-ranging curriculum, cutting-edge technology, spiritually enriching retreats and service opportunities, a diverse selection of extracurricular activities, and 21 interscholastic sports teams.Yet, with a student population of just around 500, Pallotti is small enough that each student is able to be treated as an individual, possessing unique talents and abilities. Pallotti is a place where young people can receive the nurturing they need and also be able to spread their wings.
One of the school's earliest graduation classes in front of the old mansion.
St. Mildred's Academy school bus circa 1920s.
Flag ceremony in front of the newly built main school building in April 1957.
Former President/Principal Steve Edmonds from his days as a counselor in the 1970s.
The old smokehouse before its demolition to make way for the construction of the new wing.
Dedication of the new wing in 2003.