History & Heritage

History and Heritage

Founded by a Saint
Villa Academy traces its roots to 1903 when Mother Cabrini (now St. Frances Xavier Cabrini) and her Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart founded their first orphanage and school in Seattle on Beacon Hill. 

The Move to Laurelhurst
In 1914, Mother Cabrini fulfilled her vision of establishing a “villa on a hill” when she moved her mission from Beacon Hill to the Laurelhurst campus we occupy today. Villa Academy’s historic, brick-clad main buildings were sited at the highest point of a 25-acre property that reaches all the way to the shores of Lake Washington. Designed by celebrated Seattle architect John Graham, and completed in 1924, the structures originally housed an orphanage and elementary school, along with a convent. A gym was added in the late 1950s. The Missionary Sisters closed the orphanage in 1951 and concentrated their energies on the elementary school known as Sacred Heart Villa, which they continued to run themselves until the mid-1970s.

Catholic and Independent
The Archdiocese gave its approval for the governance of the school to be turned over to an independent, lay Board of Trustees in 1977. Sacred Heart Villa became Villa Academy and the city’s only Catholic independent preschool through eighth-grade school.

 

1923 or 1924 front of newly completed school - Version 2

Villa's main school building, seen here upon its completion in 1924, was designed by famed Seattle architect, John Graham Sr. Construction was funded largely by donations from the William Pigott, Patrick Heney, and J.T. Heffernan families.

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