About Us » History


Welcome to St. Mary School

In 1845, just six years after its incorporation as a city, Taylorville was selected as a site for a new Catholic mission and future parish. The few Catholic families living in this fledgling community joined together to construct a small frame building to use as a chapel for religious services. This facility was moved to Adams and Washington Streets in 1883, and a new addition was built to hold the growing congregation.

As the young parish quickly grew, this structure became overcrowded. In 1885, under the direction of Father P.S. Pennartz, the parish built a new church at the southeast corner of Adams and Washington. Over time, the congregation of the parish continued to grow and parishioners realized they must address the need for educational facilities for their children. Out of this concern, the idea for St. Mary School developed.

In 1909, Father John Merscher put the idea into action and organized the first St. Mary School, a one-room house at 116 West Franklin Street. There were 77 students and one teacher.

The next year another room was added along with an additional teacher. Four years later enrollment had grown to 110 students, seriously testing the capacity of the building on Franklin Street. The parish then purchased and converted the vacant Free Methodist Church, located on the site of the current school. While this structure was an improvement over the original school, its two classrooms and inadequate construction provided only a short term solution for the growing parish.

To solve the space issue, newly appointed Pastor John J. Corcoran quickly began planning a new school in 1919. He organized parishioners who responded generously to his appeals for funds. In 1920, the red brick building at 422 South Washington Street was constructed at a cost of $50,000. The school had an enrollment of 346 students with a staff of four religious sisters and six lay teachers.

As time passed, the need for a larger, more modern church was also felt. Monsignor George Powell began construction of the new church in 1941. It cost $75,000 to build and another $50,000 for furnishings. Five years later, the new rectory was completed next to the church.

By 1957 nearly 40 years had passed without expansion of the school facilities. Pastor Joseph O’Dwyer kicked off a campaign to raise funds to construct a parish center. This building would house a cafeteria, gymnasium, and multipurpose rooms for use by the school and parish. In August of 1959, this facility became reality as Bishop William O’Connor dedicated the new St. Mary Parish Center.

On November 3, 1999, the parish began a building project that would provide additional classroom space. An annex to the school containing four classrooms, restrooms, and a large multipurpose room was constructed at a cost of approximately $900,000. Bishop George Lucas dedicated and blessed the new building on September 23, 2000.