Ursuline Academy in Pittsburgh was established in 1872 as the Ursuline Young Ladies Academy. In 1894, it moved to a former estate bounded by Winebiddle Avenue and Coral and Evaline Streets. In its middle years, Ursuline Academy offered classes from elementary through 12th grade, but later focused on grades 9 through 12 for young women.

In 1958 the Ursuline Sisters of Pittsburgh joined with the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville, Kentucky. Decreased enrollment and the opening of Lawrenceville Area Catholic High School in the neighborhood led to the closing of Ursuline Academy in June 1981.


Ursuline Academy – Pittsburgh Timeline

1762 – Winebiddle Family settles into area, owning 684 acres from Lawrenceville to East Liberty, including a portion of land that would later become the campus of Ursuline Academy

1865 – Harriet Winebiddle, widow of John Conrad Winebiddle Jr. sells seven acres to dry goods merchant Henry J. Lynch for $11,500

1867 –Henry J. Lynch builds 21-room Second Empire mansion (became Ursuline Academy’s main classroom building)

1872 – Henry J. Lynch sells portion of 7 acres and house to William Smith for $22,500

1874 – William Smith, iron foundry owner, files for bankruptcy. House and property go into a trusteeship

1882 – Property and house sold to E. B. Godfrey for $20,000

1894 – Ursuline Sisters purchase 2.4 acres and house from E.B. Godfrey for $30,000 and relocate their school from Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood

1894-1949 – Mother Ursula Crawford oversees significant expansion of the campus and curriculum and is a driving force behind the Ursuline Academy receiving national recognition as a teaching institution

1899-1904 –A Romanesque Revival Auditorium for multi-use assembly, activities and residential is completed

1910 – Enrollment is 164 high school students. Twenty-six sisters are in residence

1913 – Late Gothic Revival Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament is designed by prominent Pittsburgh architect Carlton Strong and built as an attachment to the west façade of the Auditorium

1921 – Queen Anne Friendship House, to house boarding students and sisters, is purchased by the Ursuline Sisters and renamed St. Ursula Hall

1924-1927 – Colonial Revival classroom and dining hall addition is designed by architect Charles Geisler and built on the northeast corner of the main classroom building

Mid – 1920s – Enrollment is 60 high school students

1929 – Colonial Revival Solarium addition is designed by architect Raymond Marlier and built on the northwest corner of the main classroom building replacing original front porch

Mid – 1930s – The student population declines. Four students graduate in 1935 and four graduate in 1937. Sisters open school to boys as day students in elementary grades as a result of the Great Depression and a source of much needed revenue

1943 – At the height of WWll, the resident population rises to 29 sisters with an enrollment of 112 girls and 23 boys

1948 –Ursuline Academy stops taking boarding students to make room for increase in high school enrollment

1955 – Highest number of students enrolled (150 in elementary school and 100 in high school)

1958 – The Ursuline Sisters of Pittsburgh amalgamate with the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville, KY

1962 – Elementary school closes to focus on high school program

1968 – Enrollment is 147 high school students

1970s – Although number of teaching sisters declines and operational costs rise, the Ursuline Sisters remain committed to maintaining a presence in the city by not re-locating to the suburbs. During the 1970s twenty-four Catholic high schools closed in the area

1972 – Ursuline Academy celebrates its 100th Anniversary. Enrollment is 140 high school students. Mother DeChantel Mulligan has served at the Academy for 64 of their 100 years

1979 – Enrollment is 109 high school students

1981 – Ursuline Academy closes on S. Winebiddle and merges with Lawrenceville Catholic High School. The sisters, responding to community needs, open the Ursuline Center at the former Academy building offering community support programs such as childcare, senior support and guardianship, educational opportunities for women in the workforce and housing for families with members in treatment at West Penn Hospital

1982 – Ursuline Academy is designated a City of Pittsburgh Historic Landmark

1993 – Ursuline Center relocates from the former Academy building as Ursuline Senior Services and is no longer operated by the Ursuline Sisters. In 2014, the program expands to Ursuline Support Services

1993-2003 – Joedda Sampson purchases the Ursuline Academy property from the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville and renovates the buildings to use as a banquet and event facility. Original mansion is renamed Victoria Hall

2003 -Present – Former Ursuline Academy returns to educational roots with purchase by Waldorf School of Pittsburgh


1949 – 1955 – Mother de Chantel Mulligan
1955-1957 – Mother Xavier Smith
1957-1958 – Sister Bernadette (Anne Marie) Trance
1958-1965 – Sister Theodolinda Obermeier
1965- 1968 – Sister Dolorine Pfalzer
1968 – 1975 – Sister Rosemary King
1975 – 1981 – Sister Rita Joseph Jarrrell

Evolution of Property

1867 – Private residence
1894 – 1981 – Ursuline Academy
1981 – Ursuline Center
1993-2003 – Victoria Hall Banquet and Event Facility
2003 – Present – Waldorf School of Pittsburgh