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Shelandra Y. Ford
Historical Markers of Shelby County

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St. Mary's Episcopal School

St. Mary's Episcopal School is the oldest private school in Memphis. It has operated continuously since its founding in 1847, and during most of its existence has been exclusively for girls. During the Civil War, Headmistress Mary Foote Pope moved the school, along with many of its students, to Mississippi, to await the end of hostilities. The Sisters of St. Mary's directed the school from 1873 to 1910. Four of them and two priests, known collectively as the "Martyrs of Memphis," died while caring for yellow (Continued on other side) fever victims during the 1878 epidemic. As Thomas F. Gailor, Bishop of Tennessee, observed in 1901, the school never succumbed to "the mere social veneering which some people call the education of girls." The School was located first at Calvary Episcopal Church, and then successively at St. Mary's Cathedral, in a building at 1257 Poplar Avenue, and at Grace-St. Luke's Episcopal Church. It moved to its present location at Church of the Holy Communion in 1953.