History of Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School
St. Mary's (1850-1927)
The first of our predecessor schools was opened on July 1, 1850, under the name St. Mary's School for Boys. The purchase took place during the cholera epidemic, and Rev. Leo Meyer, S.M. was able to purchase the 125-acre property known as Dewberry Farm from John Stuart for a promise of $12,000 at 6 percent interest and a medal of St. Joseph. Initially, the school enrolled 14 primary students and added grades with each subsequent year. The school's name was changed numerous times to St. Mary's School, St. Mary's Institute, and St. Mary's College, until 1920 when the name changed to the University of Dayton.
The Marianist high school remained on campus until 1927, when the order purchased the Red Brick building on Ludlow and Franklin Streets known as Notre Dame Academy from the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and opened Chaminade High School. There are locations on the University of Dayton campus still today where you can find remnants of the original school, including St. Mary's Hall, which at one time stood as the tallest building in Dayton. The University of Dayton and Chaminade Julienne High School have remained closely tied by our shared history and our continued relationship with the Marianist order over all of these years. Many of our students today continue their education at the top tier Catholic university.
Notre Dame Academy (1886-1927)
The multi-faceted history of Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School begins with the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Arriving by canal boat from Cincinnati in 1849, a group of these sisters purchased property on the corner of Franklin and Ludlow Streets in downtown Dayton, Ohio. In 1886, they opened Notre Dame Academy, a private secondary school for girls in downtown Dayton. The school became known for its commitment to academic excellence and spiritual enrichment and gained a reputation for providing quality, Catholic education. Enrollment grew and made it necessary to expand facilities. In 1927, the Sisters moved the school to the beautiful 14-acre Kuntz estate on Homewood Avenue where they established a large, new Catholic high school for girls, Julienne High School.
Julienne High School (1927-1973)
The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur opened Julienne High School in 1927 to approximately 500 young women. Originally called Notre Dame Academy de Julienne, the school later adopted the shorter title of Julienne High School, honoring the founder of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, St. Julie Billiart.The Sisters resolved to continue the tradition of providing quality Catholic education and designed a curriculum that prepared students for all walks of life, giving them not only a religious education, but also the best available training in appropriate secular subjects. The “Julienne girls” were easily identifiable around town by their uniforms of navy blue and white, the school’s colors.
Chaminade High School (1927-1973)
In 1927, the Society of Mary purchased the downtown Dayton property occupied by Notre Dame Academy and previously owned by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. The Marianists opened the area’s first Catholic high school for boys, Chaminade High School with an enrollment of 200. It was called Dayton Catholic School for the first year but was renamed in 1928 for Rev. William Joseph Chaminade, founder of the Society of Mary. Enrollment grew steadily as the school quickly gained a solid reputation for its rigorous academic program, commitment to discipline and values, and superior athletic program. The “Men of Chaminade” were noticeable for many years in their dress pants, shirt, tie and sweater or jacket.
St. Joseph Commercial High School (1946-1974)
In 1946, the Sisters of Charity opened St. Joseph Commercial High School for young women interested in entering the business world. The only school of its type available to young women in the state of Ohio, St. Joe’s established itself as a fine vocational school with excellent teachers who demonstrated concern for each of the students. Enrollment increased gradually, but really thrived with the acceptance of sophomores in 1955 and freshmen in 1966.
Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School (1973 to present)
While enrollment peaked in the early 1960s, enrollment declined at both Julienne and Chaminade high schools in the early 1970s. In 1973, the owning religious orders decided to merge and opened Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School. For Julienne High School, the merger was, in a sense, a homecoming, since they were returning to the site of their first school at the corner of Franklin and Ludlow Streets. Both religious orders who owned and operated the two schools, the Marianists (Chaminade) and the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (Julienne), immediately began working together to create a dynamic, co-educational Catholic high school.
In 1974, St. Joseph Commercial Academy was closed due to declining enrollment, after graduating more than 2,200 young women who were morally and academically well-prepared to enter the business world. Many of its students transferred to the newly-established Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School, where they became an integral part of the school.
Today, Chaminade Julienne stands as a truly unique school in Dayton, serving 52 different zip codes throughout the Miami Valley and representing more than 46 different grade schools. Diversity is one of Chaminade Julienne’s greatest strengths. Each student has the opportunity to learn with and from individuals whose social, economic, racial and religious backgrounds are different than their own. Students gain a real-world view of the community and an appreciation for the ways diversity can enrich their personal, academic, and eventually, professional lives.
CJ also continues to be an educational community of faith that offers a challenging academic program. CJ staff members are committed to educating the whole person, to serving the poor, and to developing family spirit. CJ students have the opportunity to travel locally, nationally and internationally as they gain first-hand knowledge of the world while serving various cultures. In 1989, Chaminade Julienne was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a National School of Excellence in honor of the school’s rich tradition, committed faculty, diverse student body and supportive community. As always, students at CJ enjoy a variety of academic, social and athletic activities, as part of a challenging educational curriculum including religion, computer and fine arts classes.
The school colors of blue and green and the Eagle mascot carry the message of the unity of CJ and its predecessor schools—schools whose continued and combined traditions form the foundation of excellence in education that defines CJ today as the premiere choice for Catholic education in the Miami Valley.