The founding of St. Cecilia Academy was simultaneous with the founding of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation in 1860. During its early years, St. Cecilia Academy was a boarding school on a hill in North Nashville known as Mount Vernon Gardens. Surviving the early tests of the Civil War and then subsequent reconstruction, the Great Depression and two more World Wars, St. Cecilia stands today as the oldest continually operating private school in Nashville.
Music and art were important areas of emphasis from the outset, as St. Cecilia is the patron saint of the arts. Early courses of study included painting, sculpture, potter, piano and harp along with core courses in math, science, history, English and religion. Today, the curriculum has grown to include courses in all disciplines of academic study as well as honors, Advanced Placement and physical education as well as the fine arts.
In 1957, St. Cecilia Academy moved its location to Harding Pike and no longer accepted boarders. This move to The Dominican Campus, which today is also home to Overbrook School and Aquinas College, afforded the Academy room to grow. Additions to that first building continued throughout the years and today St. Cecilia Academy features a 500-seat theater, a dining hall, a science wing with chemistry, physics and biology labs, a 90-seat lecture hall and a technology center as well as a library, gym, tennis center, softball field and chapel. In 2009, a new soccer field and track were added.
St. Cecilia Academy is currently in the process of building a new fine arts wing that will be completed in early 2019.