UPDATED: 11-7-2020


In 1864 eight nuns, members of the Sisters of the Visitation, opened one of Parkersburg's first schools, the Catholic Academy, at the southeast corner of Fifth and Avery. In 1900 the school moved to its large new building--called DeSales Heights and designed after the order's original Visitation convent in Annecy, France--on a hill above Murdoch Avenue, just north of Thirteenth Street. The old building became St. Joseph's Hospital (see the St. Joseph's page for photos).

In 1992 the dozen elderly nuns of the semicloistered convent voted to close their 130-year-old monastery and school. The furnishings were sold at auction and the coffins of nuns were relocated from the chapel crypt to a local cemetery. (Filmmakers Tommie Dell Smith and Susan Pointon made an hour documentary on the last days of DeSales Heights called Breaking Silence: The Story of the Sisters of DeSales Heights, available at http://www.newday.com/films/Breaking_Silence_Sisters.html). The current St. Joseph's Hospital bought the building five years later because of its proximity to the hospital's main facilities. After several years of vandalism and a fire that destroyed part of the building, DeSales Heights Academy was torn down in July 2002.

The order of the Sisters of the Visitation was founded in France in 1610 by St. Francis deSales (1567-1622), a Geneva bishop who was canonized in 1665 by Pope Alexander. The Sisters established their first religious school in the United States in 1816.

DeSales Heights Academy, circa 1907.

The front driveway, circa 1938.

The southern side of the convent, circa 1938.

The interior courtyard, circa 1910.

The upper lawn, circa 1938.

Our Lady's Hill and the steps going down to
the Grotto of the Lourdes, circa 1938.

The visitation academy library in the late 1930s.

DeSales students learn to type, circa 1938.

The softball field.

The tennis and volleyball courts. St. Joseph Hospital is in the background.

The chapel.

The DeSales Wagonette of 1914. (Inset: Sister Mary Martha.)

The DeSales Heights class of 1900. Standing: Frances Brophy, Agnes Davis,
Regina Carr. Seated: Nellie Miller, Mary Ferrell, Frances Herchmer.


Desales Heights Academy Investigation and Pictures (ghost hunting)

DeSales Heights Academy Parkersburg, WV (Classmates.com)


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