The Ursuline Academy of the Immaculate Conception in Louisville, Ky., opened in 1859. It was founded by three Sisters from the Ursuline Convent in Straubing, Bavaria. Some of the young girls boarded at the school and others were day pupils from the surrounding neighborhood. Miss Anna Kotter was the first graduate to finish grade twelve in 1867.

By 1880 the school took only day pupils, while boarders were enrolled at another Ursuline school, Sacred Heart Academy, outside the city limits. As the enrollment increased over the next decades, the curriculum changed to meet the needs. In the early years of the twentieth century, commercial classes were added to the liberal arts. Enrollment peaked in the 1950s, but began to decline in the mid-1960s. Reluctantly the Ursuline Sisters made the decision to phase out the Academy. The last class graduated from Ursuline Academy in 1972.

The Ursuline Academy Arch, was part of the original Saint Ursula Convent and the Ursuline Academy of the Immaculate Conception on East Chestnut Street in Louisville. It served as the gateway to all who entered through the Academy’s doors. When the Academy closed in 1972, the arch remained as a symbol of the Ursuline spirit and the numerous girls who learned the Ursuline values and ideals during their high school years.

In 1996, Ramelle Patterson of the class of 1942, proposed moving the arch to the Ursuline Campus. Alumnae raised more than $21,000 and the arch was moved Sept. 23, 1997. A special ceremony Oct. 19, 1997, welcomed alumnae to the unveiling of the arch in its new home next to the Ursuline Motherhouse.


Historic Timeline

1858 – Three Ursuline Sisters from Straubing, Bavaria arrive in Louisville to teach German immigrant children at St. Martin of Tours Parish

1859 – Ursuline Academy boarding school opens

1860 – Day school opens. 20 boarding students and 40 day students

1867 – First Graduation. Miss Anna Cotter is the only graduate

1887 – Boarding students move to new school in the country (Sacred Heart Academy). Ursuline Academy enrolls only day students

1947 – Largest graduating class – 150 young women

1972 – Final (109th) Commencement – 36 young women

1976 – Building sold to developer G. Raymond Schuhmann. Renamed “The Cloister”

1978 – Building listed on historical national register

1997 – Alumnae spearhead fundraising efforts to move the historic gateway arch to the Ursuline Campus next to the Motherhouse

2010 – Dedication of Historic Marker at the site of the Ursuline Sisters’ first Motherhouse and school in Louisville



1859 – 1874 Sister Pia Schoenhofer
1926-1928 – Sister Dolorosa Gough
1928-1932 – Sister Agnes Enderlin
1932-1934 – Sister Casilda Bowling
1934-1939 – Sister Sylvester Ahlhaus
1939-1946 – Sister Pancratia Lichtefeld
1946-1952 – Sister Raymond Carter
1952-1954 – Sister Agnes Marie Long
1954-1957 – Sister Antonia Wagner
1957-1960 – Sister Angela VanNatta
1960-1962 – Sister Rosalin Schaeffer
1962-1968 – Sister Columba Ishanski
1968- 1972 – Sister Laurene Reh