History of Gonzaga College High School

Gonzaga is the oldest educational institution in the old Federal City of Washington. Gonzaga College opened its doors to the young men of the Federal City in 1821. It was then located on the north side of F Street, N.W., between 9th and 10th Streets. The building's foundation stone had been laid in 1815 by Bishop Leonard Neale, auxiliary to Archbishop John Carroll, the first American bishop of the Catholic Church. Both men were originally Jesuits. The building was first intended to become a House of Novices for the Jesuits, but this plan was abandoned. According to one report, the building housed a small school during the period of abandonment. However, after standing empty for several years, the Jesuits finally entered their building in 1820 and started a House of Philosophy for Jesuit Scholastics. In the months that followed, the Jesuits were besieged with requests from Catholics and non-Catholics alike in Washington to allow their sons into the college (which was originally under the charter of Georgetown College), not to become Jesuits, but for a good basic education. The Jesuits agreed, and the Washington Seminary, as Gonzaga was originally called, began classes for lay students in 1821.

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