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Our History

For over a century, St. Mary School has had an outstanding tradition of providing quality, God-centered education to young people throughout the Leelanau Peninsula. 

1887– Mother Benedicta, a cousin of the Schaub’s from Chicago, sent Fr. Bauer three of her most able Benedictine nuns to staff the school.

1888 – Benedictine nuns were replaced by Dominican nuns from Grand Rapids. When Catholic students transferred to St. Mary from the public school, a decision was made to allow non-Catholics to attend as well. The Dominican nuns promoted St. Mary as a day/boarding school, attracting students from miles away. Twelve grades were gradually added to the program.  Over time, students from the surrounding areas of Leland, Suttons Bay, Gills Pier, and Glen Arbor attended St. Mary high school.

1907 to 1921 – Students who wished to attend college transferred to St. Francis in Traverse City to complete their high school education. St. Mary was unable to provide the required classes students needed to graduate from an approved high school. 

1908 – An east wing was added including two classrooms, a larger chapel, and more living space for the nuns.

1924 – The village of Provemont changed its name to Lake Leelanau.

1925 -  A stone convent (current rectory and Parish Office) was built on the site of the old church in order to provide the nuns with a private residence and expand classroom space. 

1938 - School Building.

1948 – St. Mary School became strictly a parochial school (i.e. supported by a parish).

1970 – As a result of changes in the Dominican community, nuns withdrew from the high school. It continued with an all lay staff.

1970s – Improvements included lowered ceilings, fluorescent lighting, gas-fired boilers, and updated insulated windows.

1982 to1986 – Sr. Lynn Tilson came to St. Mary to teach science, religion, and to coach girls’ basketball and softball. Since her departure, the school has had an all lay staff.

2003 – Ground was broken on a $1.5 million building campaign. Additions to the existing 1938 school building included a gymnasium, kitchen/cafeteria, administrative offices, and large lobby area complete with trophy cases.

2004 – Completion of an up-to-date computer lab.

2005 – State-of-the-art science lab replaced the 1938 science lab.

2007 – Library remodeled/refurbished.

2009 – Chapel refurbished.

2014 – Generator installed in parish office to supply relief to the  church, rectory and school in the event of a power outage.