Christian Brothers College - University, Memphis, Tennessee
- All Dates
Biographical / Historical
Bishop Patrick Augustus Feehan of Nashville was taught by the Brothers in Ireland and that experience urged him to petition for the Brothers in 1684 to come to Memphis to open a school. He had Mr. Michael Gavin, prominent merchant and Catholic in Memphis, purchase land on Willington Street, between Vance and Linden in September of 18656 for $14,000.00. The plan for the Brothers to open their school in 1867 was dashed because Memphis was in the throes of a Yellow Fever epidemic. The land on Wellington was sold in 1869. In 1871 the Bishop again made his request to the Brothers to come to Memphis. The Memphis Female College on Adams had failed and its owners, Presbyterian minister C.G. McPherson of Germantown and William Mitchell of Florence, Alabama sold the property to the Brothers on September 23, 1871 for $35,000.00. The land extended from High Street east for one block, and from Adams north one block to Washington. The empty four-story brick square building erected in 1854 was substantial, but needed repairs. Brother Edward, the provincial of the Brothers' St. Louis District, arranged for the transfer of Brother Maurelian from Christian Brothers College in Pass Christian, Mississippi to come to Memphis in November and open Christian Brothers College. He paid his first visit to Memphis in late October and met with local priest, and laypersons. Of note in the meeting was Eugene Magevney, pioneer Memphis Catholic and school teacher. To assist Brother Maurelian in opening the school, Brother Edward summoned Brothers Anthony of Rome, Clement Bernward and Luperius to come to Memphis. These Brothers had fled Chicago following the great fire of October 9 1871 which had destroyed some of the Brothers' schools in that city. Brother Maurelian returned to Pass Christian to turn over his to duties to the President of Christian Brothers College there he moved to Memphis around November 12, 1871. He faced immediately the crushing debt on the purchase of the property on Adams and furnishing the building in time for opening the school later in the month. He and his community resided at St. Peter's Church with the gracious Dominican Fathers and their pastor, Father Kelly, OP. The John Shea family also opened their home to the Brothers to reside until the top floor of the 612 Adams building could be fitted up as residence for the Brothers. At St. Peter's Church the Brothers were given the use of the two front pews facing the altar of St. Joseph. On Sunday, November 19, 1871 at 3:00PM, Father Stephen Byrne, OP presided at the dedication of Christian Brothers College. A procession of persons from various Catholic fraternities and sodalities and the Catholic Sodality Band marched up Adams three blocks east the assembly from the front door. Diocesan priests prominent in early Catholic Memphis history...Fathers John Veale, Martin Walsh, Anthony Luiselli...along with Franciscan Father Ambrosius, and Dominican Fathers O'Brien and Casey, were present. Colonel Michael Magevney and John J. Duffy gave speeches. School was to open the next day, November 20, but the opening was postponed until the next day, November 21, 1871. Even though schools opened ordinarily in September, the November opening of CBC welcomed eighty seven boys, eight of whom boarded at the school. Christian Brothers College, at first, used the Charter of Incorporation from the Memphis Female College, and on July 15, 1872 the charter was revised under the name of Christian Brothers College. Christian Brothers in Memphis operated under this charter until 1965 when the high school department moved to 5900 Walnut Grove and received its own charter with the name, Christian Brothers La Salle High School. On Adams, Christian Brothers College operated three departments: elementary, high school and college. The college classes ceased with the onset of World War I and re-commenced following World War II. The elementary department ceased in 1926. The high school department operated without interruption since November 21, 1871.