Cathedral High School & Christian Brothers Home

Christian Brothers Home photographed ca. 1922 by Hugh McKenzie. [Image: UMD Martin Library]

Christian Brothers Home | 315 N. Second Ave. W. | Architects: Bray & Nystrom | Built: 1907 | Extant

Cathedral High School | 330 W. Fourth St. | Architect: Anthony Puck | Built: 19010 | Lost, 1963

In 1907 Bishop James McGolrick entered into an agreement with the Congregation of Christian Brothers to establish a Catholic high school for boys. Founded in England in 1802, the Christian Brothers were dedicated to teaching youth. They first opened a school in America in New York City in 1906, just a year before they came to Duluth. The diocese built a house for the Brothers on the former site of Catholic Association Hall. Likely designed by William Bray, the Gothic Revival building contains many of the same elements Bray used in Cathedral School three years earlier.

At first the home also doubled as a high school, but within two years of the building’s construction, high enrollment had rendered the building inadequate for teaching. The diocese secured an empty lot across the avenue from Cathedral School and began a fundraising campaign to build a high school building. Railroad magnate James J. Hill of St. Paul personally kicked in $10,000. They used part of it to pay architect Anthony Puck to design a narrow, Gothic-inspired building along Second Avenue West between Fourth and Third Streets. The school stood four stories high along Fourth Street and six along Third. While its design complemented Cathedral School and the Christian Brothers Home, it was much less adorned than its companion structures. Puck outfitted the school with twenty classrooms, a gymnasium, locker rooms, and offices. Its heating plant originally supplied steam for not just itself but for the three other adjacent diocese buildings.

The Christian Brothers moved out of their home, and Duluth, in 1942 when the Diocese allowed girls to attend the high school: the “Brothers Rule” only allowed them to educate boys. (It was likely for the best; since the late twentieth century, hundreds of Christian Brothers in the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, Canada, and the United State have been found guilty of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of children in their care.) The 1907 building then became a convent used by the Benedictine nuns who took over some of the teaching duties of the high school after the Christian Brothers left. The convent closed in 1977 and the building was sold. It reopened in 1979 as an apartment building and remains so today.

The diocese built a new school along Rice Lake Road in 1963, and the 1910 high school was demolished shortly thereafter; its lot remains empty to this day. In 1971 a group of private citizens took over governance of Cathedral High School, which was renamed Marshall School in 1987.


Cathedral High School, date and photographer unknown. [Image: Diocese of Duluth]