History

DSC_0843Proudly Educating Students Since 1879!

Holy Cross Regional Catholic School, located in the city of Lynchburg, is a Roman Catholic, co-educational, PreK-12 school in the Diocese of Richmond. Its history is somewhat unique, in that the school predates the public schools in the city of Lynchburg. History claims 1879 as its founding date, but Holy Cross as a church-related or parish school has a pre-history.

The history of the Catholic Church in Lynchburg dates back to 1843. The construction of the Kanawha canal in 1834 contributed to its growth. Thousands of Irish Catholics were employed for the project, and many workers established their residence in or near Lynchburg after the completion of the canal. A building located at Ninth and Clay streets was acquired in 1843 for use as the first church, named St. Francis Xavier.

In 1871, Reverend James J. McGurk, Pastor, organized a parochial school. In 1874, the school was incorporated into the newly founded public school system. However, this arrangement was discontinued after one year and the school was once again an independent school. In 1879, the present Catholic Church was built at Seventh and Clay streets and the parish was renamed Holy Cross.  A request for Sisters was made to Emmitsburg, Maryland, to the community founded by Elizabeth Ann Seton. As a result, four Daughters of Charity arrived in December 1879.   When the Sisters arrived, the school was housed in the old church (St. Francis Xavier). Eighty pupils ranging from six to seventeen years of age were enrolled in the school. Initially, students were grouped into primary, intermediate, and senior sections instead of separate class levels.  In 1916, the old church building was razed and a new ten-room building was erected on the same site. For forty years, it served the academic needs of the Catholic population in the area.

In 1957, with the arrival of two large industries and the subsequent arrival of Catholic families from the northeast, expansion of school facilities became imperative. The pastor, the Very Reverend Monsignor F. Harold Nott, purchased a large double house at the corner of Eighth and Court streets and this house was converted into a high school in February 1957. Soon, this facility was not adequate to provide for the increased enrollment.

Monsignor Nott tDSC_0846ook steps to purchase twenty-seven acres of land on Langhorne Road in the geographical center of the city of Lynchburg. Plans were then made for the immediate construction of a school with additional long-range planning for future expansion. In 1960, the new school with twelve classrooms was opened. In 1963, the spacious gymnasium was added and in 1967, three additional classrooms and a small chapel were built.In 1978, a new parish, St. Thomas More, was established in the Lynchburg area. The church was completed in 1981. At that time, the Bishop of Richmond, Walter F. Sullivan, decided that Holy Cross School would be designated as a diocesan regional school rather than a parish school. The parishes that were to be a part of Holy Cross School were Holy Cross, St. Thomas More and Holy Name of Mary in Bedford.

In December 1982, the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of the Villa Maria Academy announced that their school would close in June 1983. The Villa was a private Catholic school in Lynchburg for day students as well as resident girls from Virginia, other states and foreign countries. In January 1983, Holy Cross School was confronted with ways to find a solution for the potential increased enrollment. The natural response was to build, yet finances had to be carefully considered, not only for the construction but to maintain the staff as well. The girls from Villa moved to Holy Cross during the 1983-84 school year in grades 1-8. These students were accommodated by the addition of four new classrooms at the end of the elementary wing, realizing the completion of the 1960 expansion plan and making provisions for a kindergarten.

In 2009 the school celebrated its 130th year anniversary with a successful “Celebrate 130/Campaign 130” year-long event. This very successful campaign enabled the school to continue on with state-of-the-art technology and progressive renovations. With students now ranging from Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade, the school houses Elementary, Middle, and High Schools within their campus.