St. Joseph's Convent and Academy

Father James Stephen of Fargo requested from Bishop Martin Marty (Bishop of Dakota Territory) in 1882 that a community of sisters be established in Fargo. Bishop Marty had been seeking a permanent home for several sisters from the Catholic religious congregation of the Union of Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, generally known as The Presentation Sisters. The order was founded in Ireland in 1775 and several members had come to Dakota Territory in March 1880 to serve at the St. Ann's Mission in Charles Mix County, Dakota Territory. The following spring the mission flooded and had to be abandoned. The sisters had been seeking a permanent home when the invitation arrived form Fargo. The Presentation Sisters arrived in Fargo on July 22, 1882.

On the feast of St. Anne, four days after their arrival, the sisters formally opened school in the church, a building formally occupied by the Methodists. The Methodist congregation had outgrown the church so they sold it to the Catholic congregation who purchased it and moved it. (This church was replaced by St. Mary's in 1900. The original Catholic church was still being used in the 1950's by the Tom Powers' Construction Company.)

The sisters quickly set about building a convent that would give them living space,a chapel, and a classrooms. When it was completed, the building was named St. Joseph's Convent and Academy. It was a small white building facing Seventh Avenue North. The church was behind it, facing Sixth Avenue. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of St. Joseph's.

The Presentation Sisters were accustomed to the rules of strict enclosure that existed in Ireland. They surrounded St. Joseph's with a high board fence to regain their privacy but the public was uncomfortable with the enclosed school. The Sisters searched for more attractive grounds and on May 2, 1897, the Sisters purchased the Yerxa residence on north Broadway. This was to become Sacred Heart Academy.

After St. Joseph's moved to the new Sacred Heart Academy, the St. Joseph's building became St. John's Orphanage and Free School.