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Special Collections and University Archives

St. Mary's History

Chronology of

Saint Mary’s Institute and Successors

In San Antonio, Texas


Key Dates

1852 August 25 – St. Mary’s Institute opens as an elementary school at its first site on the Military Plaza.  The local population referred to it as “the French School” because the Brothers of Mary making up its faculty were from France. (Joseph Schmitz, 1951)

The pioneer faculty members were Jean-Baptiste Laignoux, Nicholas Koenig, Xavier Mauclerc and Andrew Edel.

1853 – The school moves to Water Street on the river next to St. Mary’s Church.  The director is Brother Andrew Edel, SM (1852-1866).

1859 September 8 – Bishop Odin signs a contract with the Society of Mary giving it title to the school in San Antonio and about 90 acres of land at the Mission Conception both on the condition that the Society maintains a school.

1861-1865 – During the Civil War the faculty of St. Mary’s was loyal to the Southern cause. 

Early 1860s – Theodore Gentilz received a permanent position as teacher of art which he held for about 30 years.

            “Theodore Gentilz, professor of drawing, undoubtedly was the best known of all the lay professors because of his long association with the school.  Gentilz came to Texas as a young man with the first settlers of Castroville, but moved to San Antonio shortly thereafter because he had no interest in farming.  He had received formal training in art in Paris and mow devoted his time exclusively to painting and drawing.  He set up a studio on North Flores Street, and early in the course of the Civil War joined the faculty of St. Mary’s as a professor of art, a position he held for approximately thirty year.  Many a budding artist got encouragement from Gentilz while attending St. Mary’s; many a masterpiece executed under his direction brought credit to the art department of the school at fairs and exhibits; and many prizes were awarded to the pupils of Professor Gentilz.  His paintings – he specialized in miniatures depicting the various national groups, fiestas, and folk customs of San Antonio – are much sought be art lovers today.  His most notable single collection hangs in the Hall of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas in San Antonio.” (Joseph Schmitz, 1951: 110)

Fall of 1865 – Visitation of Fr. John Reinbolt leads to decision to continue St. Mary’s

Fall of 1866 – Bro. Charles Francis appointed director

1870 – St. Mary’s Institute became the largest school in the city, 400 pupils of which 50 were boarders.

1876 – “Construction began in the fall of 1875 and by April 1876 was under roof.  (…) The new building was a four story structure…placed behind, or south, of the present structure. (…) A connecting bridge at the level of the second floor was constructed to join the two buildings.  The buildings towered above most of the neighboring structures, and for many years the geography books…reproduced a photograph of the skyline showing the school as the tallest structure in the downtown district.” (Joseph Schmitz, 1951: 77)

1880 – Name of St. Mary’s Institute changed to St. Mary’s College, with elementary and high grades, and a boarding department.  Bro. Charles Francis, SM is the director.

1882 – St. Mary’s Institute renamed St. Mary’s College (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002:2)

1888 September 3 – The Spanish language class at St. Mary’s becomes San Fernando School at a location separate from St. Mary’s.  In the summer of 1891 San Fernando Cathedral School occupied a new building.

1893 August 22 – The ground-breaking ceremonies for St. Louis College at Woodlawn Hills site (Goelz 1996: 11) 

1893 December 31 – cornerstone laid for St. Louis College in Woodlawn Hills, West Heights:

“Three thousands guests attended.  A parade of mounted police, the College band, two hundred carriages, men on horseback, city and county officials, and religious leaders moved up Cincinnati Avenue for the grand occasion.” (Goelz 1996: 11)

1893 – Bro. George Albert began the “Pecan Grove” with a dozen trees (Goelz 1996: 12)


Saint Louis College and Saint Mary’s College

1894 summer – The St. Louis College building is completed.  The boarding department of St. Mary’s College was moved to this new location.  The doors opened on Tuesday, September 4, 1894. High school diplomas authorized by the State of Texas in 1895 for St. Louis College.  Directors at St. Louis College from 1894 to 1922:

Bro. John Wolfe, SM (1894-1908)

Fr. Louis Tragesser, SM (1908-1913)

Fr. August Frische, SM (1913-1917)

Fr. James Canning, SM (1917-1922)

Meanwhile back at the St. Mary’s College campus:

            “The removal of the boarding department to West End in 1894 left the downtown school – St. Mary’s College – free to develop as a day school…from the nineties, when it was essentially a commercial high school to the 1920s, when academic reorganization standardized its offerings, and the thirties when the school was relocated and renamed Central Catholic High School.” (J Schmitz, 1951: 194)

            In September 1904, classes were offered toward a Bachelor of Science degree.  It was more equivalent to a junior college associates degree of later years (J Schmitz, 1951: 197)

1895 May 25 – the State of Texas grants a charter to St. Louis College as a “junior” college with authority to issue bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees (Goelz 1996: 13)

1899 – The West End Electric Line was discontinued and its terminus relocated one mile east of St. Louis College thus ending service on the “longest mile in Texas” from that terminal to the college.  The walk ended in 1949 when the city bus extended its line to the college.

1899 – The International Fair of San Antonio grants seventeen first-place prizes to St. Louis College students for schoolwork exhibits. (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002:2)

1901 – Joseph A. Ryan is elected first president of the St. Mary’s Ex-students Association (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002:2)

1902 – Development of interscholastic athletics (applies to both campuses):

            “Regularly scheduled competition with organized teams [baseball] did not begin until 1902, when a series of six baseball games was played.  In 1904, fully equipped with attractive uniforms, the team played a full schedule.” (Joseph Schmitz, 1951: 168)

            “Basketball was started somewhat after baseball.  By 1908 a squad was competing locally; in 1914 the college basketball team entered the city scholastic league.” (Joseph Schmitz, 1951: 169)

            “In the fall of 1909 the authorities consented to the introduction of football (referred to as “Rugby foot-ball”). (Joseph Schmitz, 1951: 169)

            “…the college in the fall of 1914 started a policy of hiring a football coach.  …thus employed in the fall of 1916, was Dwight Eisenhower, then a Lieutenant stationed at Fort Sam Houston.  The college offered him a salary of $150. 

1902 – St. Mary’s College golden jubilee and beginning of the Alumni Association

            “The St. Mary’s College Alumni Association was an outgrowth of the golden jubilee celebration.  The various committees in 1902 formed the nucleus of the organization.  The first regularly elected president was Dr. G. G. Clifford, postmaster who was elected on June 1, 1902.  The oyster bake…was started at the annual election of officers on January 13, 1917, when H Menger was elected.  As the years passed the “Annual Oyster Bake” became one of the outstanding social attractions of the association.” (Joseph Schmitz, 1951: 204-205)

            “The Alumni Association…was originally composed largely of graduates of old St. Mary’s College and maintained its headquarters at the downtown school.  Many of the students graduating from St. Louis College joined the association.  When the college departments of the two institutions were united and located on the West End campus, the association began to identify itself with the University.  An independent “Degree Club” limited to the graduates of St. Mary’s University came into existence.  During the 1930s…the old Alumni Association was…renamed the Ex-Students’ Association…[joining] into one unit all former students…of the San Antonio schools conducted by the Brothers of Mary.  It continued the parent organization until 1950.  Four categories of members were established in 1950: a) the old St. Mary’s College, St. Louis College, St. Mary’s Academy and all members of the old Alumni Association; b) women ex-students of St. Mary’s University; c) ex-students of Arts and Sciences of St. Mary’s University; d) alumni of the School of Law.  All groups together constituted the Ex-Students’ Association.” (Joseph Schmitz, 1951: 206-207)

1904 – Regular collegiate degrees were granted

1908 – The classes were designated ‘by the collegiate names customary in the country, viz. senior, junior, sophomore, and freshman (J. Schmitz, 1951). 

1908 May 17 – the cornerstone for Reinbolt Hall, the “annex” to St. Louis College was laid with a ceremony attended by 500 friends of the college (Goelz 1996: 12).  Reinbolt Hall could accommodate 150 boarding students (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002:4)

1908 – Bro. Charles Francis is the first Marianist burial in the campus cemetery; however, several others who died before this date were moved from other San Antonio cemeteries. (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002: 43)

1914 – The college department separated the arts and sciences; the high school program was divided into four years’ work in which the student could select classical, technical or commercial subjects; the primary department was divided into grades fifth, sixth, and seventh. (Joseph Schmitz, 1951: 156-157)

            NOTE: the college program was only two years long at this time.

1916-1929 – St. Louis College had an intercollegiate football program (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002: 32)

1917 – The Brothers stop teaching at San Fernando Cathedral School when the boys’ section was joined to the girls’ section taught by the Sisters of the Incarnate Word.

1918 – The monthly publication titled The St. Louis College Bulletin begins.  In 1923, it became the St. Mary’s College Bulletin.  Then on October 15, 1924, a schoolwide contest for a new name resulted in The Rattler. (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002: 43)

1919 – St. Louis College discontinues its post-secondary program (J. Schmitz, 1951: 216)

1919 – St. Louis College begins a student newspaper.  In 1923, a student contest proposes The Rattler for its title. (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002:4)

June 7, 1921 – The suspension of the post-secondary program announced owing to a lack of students (about six a year graduated from it

1920-21 – Chaminade Hall built as a distinct dormitory at the St. Louis College campus to provided added capacity for boarding students which had been capped at 250 (Goelz 1996: 13)

1921 – St. Mary’s College (downtown) discontinues post-secondary courses (J. Schmitz, 1951: 216).  All post-secondary classes are transferred from the downtown St. Mary’s to the Woodlawn campus. (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002:4)


St. Mary’s College and St. Mary’s Academy

1923 – St. Louis College name changed to St. Mary’s College.  The catalog of 1923-24 listed the academic organization as: 1) College of Arts, 2) College of Letters, 3) College of Business Administration, 4) College of Science and 5) the College of Engineering (Goelz 1996: 15).  

In addition, there was a St. Mary’s University High School attached to the institution.

The former St. Mary’s College becomes St. Mary’s Academy.  The director at St. Mary’s Academy was Fr. Walter Golatka, SM.  The director at St. Louis College was Fr. Robert Mayl, SM (1922-1927)

            “In the spring of 1923…the Brothers decided to start a regular four-year liberal arts college and offer standard academic degrees.”  Both St. Louis College and St. Mary’s College had…discontinued advanced instruction in 1919 and 1921 respectively. (216)

            The college program was located at the West End campus which was renamed St. Mary’s College while the downtown campus, which offered a high school curriculum, was renamed St. Mary’s Academy.  There was confusion in the names until in 1931, the downtown campus was renamed Central Catholic High School.  The new college course began with a two-year junior college course with the junior and senior years being added as soon as enough students progressed that far. (Joseph Schmitz, 1951: 217)

            “The school…was recognized as a Junior College by the State Department of Education in 1924, was admitted to the Association of Texas Colleges in 1925,” rated as a standard senior college in 1926 by the state, and in 1927 by the ATC.  At the same time (February 19, 1926) it received a new charter and the name St. Mary’s University. (Joseph Schmitz, 1951: 218)


1924 October 14 – the Provincial Council of the Society of Mary in St. Louis voted in favor of the request of St. Mary’s College to purchase 55.85 acres from the University of Cincinnati for the sum of $20,931.00.  This property extended south to Culebra Road (a distance of 968 feet) and west to the crossroad to Bandera, now 36th Street (a distance of 2512 feet). (Goelz 1996: 13)

1925 – “Big time football”

            “Big-time” football was introduced from 1925 to 1931 but discontinued because the deficit did not match the supposed benefits to the University.  Football was reintroduced “under the tutelage of glib Mose Sims, promoter extraordinary. (…) Tangible advantages to the players or to the school were, however, not in evidence.”  Deficits again led to discontinuance.  There was one further effort…satisfactory financially but functioned briefly as World War II cut deeply into enrollment.” (Joseph Schmitz, 1951: 230-232)


1926 February 19 – Charter from the State of Texas with the name St. Mary’s University.

1926 – St. Mary’s first intercollegiate basketball team posted a 12-7 record (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002: 30)


St. Mary’s University

1927 July 1 – under the presidency of Rev. Alfred H. Rabe, SM the institution began operating under the charter granted February 19, 1926 at St. Mary’s University (Goelz 1996: 15)

1927 October 1 – An evening division for St. Mary’s College is opened downtown

            “In order to help various San Antonio school teachers obtain academic degrees a downtown evening division of the University was opened for evening classes on October 1, 1927.  Year after year numbers of teachers in the San Antonio school system and surrounding Bexar County attended evening classes…and earned baccalaureate degrees.  To be of further service to them, a Graduate School was opened in the summer of 1937 (and continued to 1949), offering Master’s degrees in English, History, and Education.  The night sessions and summer school were always co-educational.” (Joseph Schmitz, 1951: 229)


1927 – The first graduating class to earn a four-year degree; a total of seven graduates, all from San Antonio (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002:4)

1929 – The Great Depression brings construction of Alumni Gym to a halt late in the year along with the suspension of varsity sports. (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002:5)

1929 – Bachelor’s degrees are awarded to two women (in the evening division one assumes), Helen Steele Broden and Alma Pond Carey. (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002:5)

1939 – St. Mary’s joins the Civil Aeronautics program and Bro. Louis Thein taught the ground school instruction (J. Schmitz, 1951: 225)

1931 – St. Mary’s Academy (downtown) moves to a new campus as Central Catholic High School. 

1932 – The ROTC program traces its lineage to this year when Lt. W. F. Cox arrived at St. Mary’s as the professor of military science.  This program deactivated for five years during World War II and in 1947, the ROTC program in its current form began. (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002:44)

1932 – The high school department at the Woodlawn campus discontinued to give added space to the college department.  Its former campus became the La Mansion Del Rio Hotel in 1968.  

October 1, 1934 – School of Law added.  The former location of St. Mary’s Academy at 112 College Street housed the St. Mary’s University School of Law and evening classes beginning in 1934.   

            “The San Antonio Bar Association had been operating a School of Law since 1927.  The Board of Governors negotiated with representatives of St. Mary’s University to take over the administration of the School of Law on October 1, 1934.  Part of the downtown campus was set aside for the exclusive use of the School of Law.” (J. Schmitz, 1951: 229)


1935 – Brother George Kohnen, SM, joins the faculty in the business division.  He becomes the first dean of the School of Business and Administration (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002:2)

1935-1941 – St. Mary’s reintroduces intercollegiate football (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002: 32)

1936 – Graduate School organized.  Master degree programs established in Education, English and History. 

1937 – Evening Division established at the Downtown College.  Discontinued during the years of World War II but reestablished after it, schoolteachers and business people used it heavily.  Much of the graduate work occurred in the Evening Division, which was co-educational.  The first women students and graduates from St. Mary’s were during the 1930s in the Evening Division. (Goelz 1996: 26 and other sources)

1937 – Brother Anthony Frederick begins his 25-year tenure as chairman of the English Department (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002:5)

1939 – Civilian pilot training debuted at St. Mary’s sponsored by the Civil Aeronautics Authority.  Bro. Louis P Thein provided 72 hours of ground training (theory) then students had 35 to 50 hours of flight instruction from Paul Daily of United Aero Corporation.  All 20 students – the quota set by the federal government – earned private pilot’s licenses that first year. (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002: 37)

1939-1940 -- Student enrollment reached 1,271 and 105 degrees were conferred (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002: 37)

1941 December 7 – “…Large numbers of the St. Mary’s football team enlisted in the armed services.  That was the end of football at St. Mary’s, never to be revived again, at least up to 1983.  Thus came to an end the flamboyant team with red, white, and blue uniforms that Mose Simms said ‘spread Catholic Action from coast to coast.’” (Schnepp, 180)

1941 – During the Second World War, enrollment shrunk to fewer than one hundred.  Faculty cooperated with courses directly related to the war effort and delivered lectures at the San

Antonio Aviation Cadet Center for convalescents and rehabilitees. (J. Schmitz, 1951: 232-233)

1942-1943 – Enrollment fell 937 with only 73 graduates (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002: 38)

1943-1944 – The faculty offered 26 non-credit war-training courses attracting 715 enrollees.  Enrollment that year bottomed out at 775, with only 43 graduates. (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002: 38)

1944-1945 – Enrollment climbed to more than 900 with 156 students in war training classes in engineering, science and management.  Only 23 degrees were conferred that spring. (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002: 38)

At the war’s end, 2,200 St Mary’s ex-students had served in the armed forces and 70 had died. (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002:6)

1945 – The University experiences record enrollment (1,642 with 676 or them veterans) but a lack of capital necessitates relying on war surplus temporary buildings for expansion of classrooms and other uses. (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002:5)

1945 – Kappa Pi Sigma, an International Honor Society, is established by Our Lady of the Lake College, St. Mary’s University and Trinity University to motivate students of Business.  The rapid growth of larger national Business honor societies led to the demise of Kappa Pi Sigma (Goelz 1996: 29-30)

1947 summer – Brothers George Kohnen and Paul Goelz obtained a vacant barracks building from War Surplus and transported it to St. Mary’s from Kelly Air Force Base.  They divided it into five classrooms and two very small offices for faculty to become the first Business School hall.  They located it just west of the current site of Garni Hall.  Furniture came from the Selective Service Commission offices downtown. (Goelz 1996: 32)

1948-49 (?) – The City of San Antonio annexes Woodlawn area (J. Schmitz, 1951: 228)

1947-1957 – Rev. Louis J. Blume obtains membership for the University in the Southern Association of Colleges and Universities (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002: 11)

1948 November 29 – St. Mary’s first freestanding library building was opened as a condition for admission into the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.  The building, originally an engine repair shop from Kelly Air Force Base, was dismantled and transported to the campus. (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002: 45)

1950-61 – Fr. Walter Buehler established the vice-presidencies for academics, development and finances and the “Office of Civic (Public) Relations” (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002: 11)

1954 October 3 – Dedication of the Marian statue in front of Saint Louis Hall to commemorate the centennial of the definition of the Immaculate Conception in 1854.  The statue is dedicated under the title “Queen of the University.”

1959 – Undergraduate curriculum for business reorganized and a graduate program toward a Master of Business Administration instituted (Goelz 1996: 36)

1960 – The University’s first board of directors is composed of President Walter Buehler and eight other Marianists (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002:7)

1963 – During the presidency of Rev. Charles Neumann, all classes at St. Mary’s University become coeducational with 247 women students admitted (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002:8)

1963-1973 – During his second term as president, Rev. Louis J. Blume directed the “Education 6000” development program, which added nine buildings to the campus. (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002: 12)

1965 – The Business division (established in 1923) reorganized as the School of Business and Administration.  In March 2006, its name was changed to the Bill Greehey School of Business.

1965 – Enrollment tops 2,265.  The University has four schools and thirty-seven majors (Arts and Sciences, Business and Administration, Law, and Graduate (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002:5)

1966 December 21 – The School of Law completed its move from the Downtown Campus to the Woodlawn Campus (Goelz 1996: 30)

1967 – The Law School relocates from Downtown to newly constructed quarters on campus. (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002:6)

1968 – Women’s intercollegiate athletic begin (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002: 31)

1969 summer – Business School dean Paul Goelz and Mr. Russell H. Kuse, CPA, organize an Advisory Council of Executives to provide the counsel of business professionals to the school. (Goelz 1996: 42)

1973 – The School of Business Administration becomes the School of Business and Administration to reflect the broader focus of instruction, research and community service (Goelz 1996: 48)

1973-1981 – Rev. James Young expanded the Board of Trustees to include lay people.  The United Colleges of San Antonio (UCSA) consortium began among the Catholic colleges in town. (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002: 12)

1974 – The “Oyster Bake” becomes an official Fiesta Week event (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002:8)

1975 – Professor Edward J. Lodell establishes the St. Mary’s Small Business Institute (SBI) and serves as its first director.  Students gained practical experience as members of consulting teams who analyzed company operations and recommended procedures for strengthening clients’ operations.  The School of Business offers it as a pro bono service to clients who could not otherwise afford it. (Goelz 1996: 51)

1977 – Enrollment numbered 3,600 students from forty-two states and 29 foreign countries (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002:6)

Late 1970s – the Horizons ’80 was a capital campaign for the School of Business and Administration focused on endowed scholarships, professional chairs and maintenance endowment.  The campaign reached its targeted goal of $5.8 million. (Goelz 1996:48)

1980s early – Someone (he doesn’t say who) established the St. Mary’s University Press “to promote, market, and distribute publications on the Market System of Economics, as well as other writings of the University faculty and staff.”  These publications are listed with R. R. Bowker, a Reed Reference Publishing Company. (Goelz 1996:65)

1981 April 27 – Ground breaking for the Albert B and Margaret M Alkek Teaching/Learning Center; building completed March 30, 1982; first classes held on April 12, 1982 and formal dedication on October 11, 1982 (Goelz 1996:55-56)

1983 – Football revived at St. Mary’s for a time (see Schnepp, 180)

1984 – The School of Arts and Sciences divided into two schools: the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and the School of Science, Engineering and Technology

1989 – St. Mary’s established a doctoral program in counselling making it the first four-year university in San Antonio to have doctoral-level education. (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002:6)

1994 – St. Mary’s established a Service Learning Center as a clearing house for community service projects (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002:6).

1999 – St. Mary’s joined the NCAA Division II

2000 – The freshman class is the first to receive individual internet ready computers (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002: 12)

2001 February 10 – Charles L. Cotrell, PhD, inaugurated as St. Mary’s first lay president (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002: 13)

2002 – Enrollment is more than 4,100 students in three under-graduate schools and two graduate schools (Sesquicentennial Pamphlet, 2002:6)



Goelz, Paul C. A Century of Professional Education in Business Administration at St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas; St. Mary’s University Press, 1996


Schmitz, SM, Joseph; Society of Mary in Texas, 1951