Monday, November 7, 2011

Matrilineal Monday: Mom's High School, Incarnate Word Academy, Houston

The prompt for Week 45 of 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History is High School.  I'm going to continue the theme and talk about the school my mother Gerrie Guokas Pape attended for high school, which was then eighth through eleventh grades.

Describe your middle and/or high school. Was it a large or small student body? Is the school still in existence today? How has it changed since you went there? 

Mom went to Incarnate Word Academy (IWA) in downtown Houston, Texas, starting there in eighth grade in the fall of 1941, and graduating four years later in the spring of 1945, after completing eleventh grade.  Sometime during that period, twelfth grade was added for subsequent classes.  My mother's sister, Jo Ann (Sister Jean Marie) Guokas, younger by two years, attended IWA for five years, eighth through twelfth grade, graduating in 1948, after she'd already entered the convent.

IWA is the oldest Catholic high school in Houston.  Here's what Texas Historic Marker #10588 says:
Established by Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament, a religious order founded 1625 in Lyons, France. In 1852, at request of the First Bishop of Texas, the Rt. Rev. John M. Odin, the order entered the United States to engage in religious education. The sisters opened their first school in Brownsville in 1853; second in Victoria, 1866; and the third here. Mother M. Gabriel Dillon and two sisters came to Houston in 1873 at request of the Rev. Joseph Querat, to begin teaching young girls in temporary quarters at the old Franciscan Monastery on Franklin. By Jan. 3, 1874, their own 3-story edifice was finished. Facing Crawford, it had a courtyard bounded by Capitol and Jackson. Boarding facilities opened in a few months. A State of Texas Charter empowered the Academy to issue diplomas, beginning in 1878. In 1899, the Exhibition Hall (auditorium) was built. To accommodate growth, another 3-story structure was added, 1905. Original building was replaced in 1948.
the original 1874 building on the left, with the 1905 building to its right and the 1899 auditorium at the far right.
From Incarnate Word Academy website
The 1905 building, still standing today, designed by famous Texas architect Nicholas Clayton.
Photo by accent on eclectic, Patrick Feller, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license
Mom, Class of 1945
A pre-1948 postcard with 1874 building in foreground,
and Annunciation Catholic Church in the background.
I probably would have attended IWA, too, if my family had not moved to Sharpstown in 1964 (about the same time St. Agnes did too, just one mile from my home), and if my aunt had not been principal of IWA from 1964 through 1978, which covered my high school years.

The 1899 auditorium (also designed by Clayton) and the 1948 replacement of the original 1874 building were both replaced by 1984 (while my aunt was president and then development director) with a four-story building that wraps around the 1905 building.  The illustration below, showing how the school looks today, is also from the school website.  You can see how close the school and church are to Minute Maid Park in this photo.
IWA is still an all-girls Catholic high school that currently enrolls about 280 students.  When Mom went to the school, it was a little smaller, but not much.

© Amanda Pape - 2011 - click here to e-mail me.

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