Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Photos of Villa Duchesne/Oak Hill School, in Saint Louis County, Missouri

Villa Duchesne/Oak Hill School is an independent Catholic school located in suburban west Saint Louis County, about fourteen highway miles west of downtown Saint Louis, Missouri.

Oak Hill is a coed primary school, while Villa Duchesne is a girls-only secondary school.

The school is owned by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a worldwide society that has been called the female equivalent to the Jesuits.

Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat (1779 – 1865) founded the society in Paris, France, in 1801. The Society had thousands of members by the time of her death, and currently operates in 45 countries.

Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne (1769 - 1852), from whom the school gets its name, brought the Society to the United States, working within the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, which at the time was a vast mission territorry covering half of the nation. The Saint is entombed in a shrine fifteen highway miles north of here, in Saint Charles, Missouri.

This school opened in 1929, and was only the latest of several Sacred Heart schools. One of those schools was a log cabin which served Indian girls.

The architects of the school were Patrick M. O'Meara and James B. Hills, who also designed numerous churches in Saint Louis and the midwest, including the nearby Carmelite Monastery.

The school appears to be made out of local limestone.

The main building was completed in 1929; there are also newer buildings on this campus.

Even the utilitarian smokestack is beautiful.

801 South Spoede Road
Saint Louis, Missouri 63131


  1. Marcus, is this a commuter school only? It's beautiful. I hope the kids appreciate their surroundings. (I was grew up in that lovely utilitarian-concrete-block-style so common everywhere).

  2. Argent,

    The website doesn't mention room and board.

    I went to a college that had great beauty, and I certainly appreciated it. I'm not sure that grade school kids would notice.

  3. Perhaps I was the odd duck of my age group but I noticed when my school building was ugly or beautiful. I went to a school that because of size of student population was divided into two buildings - one the beautiful old high ceilinged rooms with dark wood trim and traditional niches with statues and decor and the other building a post VII modern brick and cement block non-entity with absolutely nothing to distinguish it from the public school down the street and nothing to give it any feeling of peace or beauty. I LOVED my schooling in the one building and hated my schooling in the other. You guess which I lloved and which I hated! ;)

  4. I was fortunate enough to attend Villa for my high school education. I am still in awe of the school every time I look at my old pictures. And yes, we did appreciate what we had.

    As to the commuter question, it used to be a boarding school (not sure when it stopped and if it was exclusively boarding) but now it is all commuters. The old dormer rooms were actually converted teachers' offices. Hope this helps!

    The school is beautiful. I highly recommend going to the chapel.

  5. Try banging on the doors of the convent sometime and ask if you can take photos of the chapel and "Mater Admirabalis." In 1997 I was in the midst of researching everything I could about the Religious of the Sacred Heart. My mother had attended City House, which later merged with Villa, after a fire destroyed it. (You can see what now remains-the base of the sacred heart statue in the parking lot of an apt complex behind the St Louis Cathedral) Anyway, there is something offered to alumni and children of alumni called a "Sacred Heart Passport." This entitles the holder to go into any Sacred Heart building in the world. The sisters at the villa convent were decidedly, eh hem, casual. Mostly dressed in shorts, one had her hair in rollers, they shouted to each other up and down the stair wells. They were gracious enough to grant me the passport for my upcoming trip to Europe and let me linger and take in the chapel to see the altar and tryptichs.

  6. You dont have pictures of the chapel but I can describe it as being very pretty. i dont know if it is ever open to the general public but if you do get an opportunity to visit the school ask if you can see the Chapel.I have seen it on a couple of occasions and it is a beautiful compliment to an outstanding school.