Bishop James Whelan, O.P., the second Bishop of Nashville, asked Dominican Sisters from Somerset,Ohio to establish a school that could provide an excellent faith-based education for young women. Four sisters left Ohio in August of 1860 to start the school, and St. Cecilia Academy opened its doors for classes on October 4, 1860.
During the summer of 1861, the Civil War began. However, St. Cecilia Academy remained open. Despite the ongoing war, the sisters decided to begin construction on the school’s first permanent building, which was completed in time for St. Cecilia Academy’s first graduation in June of 1862.
St. Cecilia Academy had its first graduating class, which included Nellie Doyle and Sallie Shipp.
As time went on, the sisters continued to acquire more land. The third wing of construction of the St. Cecilia Motherhouse and Academy was completed. It included the music conservatory, dining hall, private student bedrooms, and art and science rooms.
The sisters bought 92 acres of land on Harding Road for $180,000, and grazed cattle on it while the plans for the campus were being decided.
St. Cecilia Academy moved to the Harding Road location. The dedication of the new building was celebrated in conjunction with the Feast of Saint Cecilia.
Ground was broken on the new library, theater, and fine arts wing.
The United States Department of Education awarded St. Cecilia Academy the Blue Ribbon Award for Excellence in Education, a distinction we retain.
The construction of the science wing, administrative offices, and Alumnae Hall were complete and a dedication was held.
St. Cecilia was named one of the Top 50 Catholic High Schools in the US by the Cardinal Newman Society, an accomplishment that we have maintained over the years.
St. Cecilia Academy’s production of the Beauty and the Beast was named the best high school musical in Tennessee by the USA Weekend, a confirmation of the consistent excellence of SCA’s drama and fine arts programs.
St. Cecilia Academy opens a newly refurbished track and soccer field complex that it shares with Overbrook School.
St. Cecilia Academy celebrates 150 years of educating young women.
In March, St. Cecilia Academy opens a new Fine Arts Center, which features 9,500 square feet of new visual art and dance studio space, as well as 5,900 square feet of renovated drama and music conservatory space.