The Souvenir of Western Women/St. Helen's Hall


ST. HELEN'S HALL was established by the Right Rev. B. Wistar Morris, D. D., and first opened in September, 1860. The ground upon which the school was built was secured through the liberality of Mr. John Wolfe, of New York, and his daughter, Miss Catherine Wolfe, the property consisting of three-fourths of a block on Fourth street, between Madison and Jefferson. In 1869 this was considered the best part of the city for private residences. During the first year, notwithstanding the difficulty of insufficient room and a small staff of teachers, the number of pupils steadily increased to one hundred and thirty-two. This success was largely due to the character and ability of Miss Mary B. Rodney, the principal. Trained at St. Mary's Hall, Burlington, the school founded by Bishop G. W. Doane, of New Jersey, she brought to Oregon that standard of Christian education for which St. Mary's was noted. In the course of study, the choice of text books, the arrangement of the school day, and the beauty and dignity of the chapel services, St. Helen's Hall followed closely the traditions of St. Mary's, and the graduates of both schools were known by the same characteristics, cultivation of mind, refinement of manners, and love for the church under whose protecting care they had passed their happy school days.

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St. Helen's Hall continued its work in the original building until the year 1890, when the property was sold to the City of Portland for the use of the city hall. On June 9, 1890, the cornerstone of the present building was laid, and on February 24, 1891, the school was moved to its new home, a handsome edifice of brick and stone, whose cross-topped turret is known far and near. Here Miss Rodney continued her work until removed by death April 15, 1896. In September, 1896, Miss Eleanor Tebbetts, Ph. D., became principal, and remained so for eight years. In 1904, by request of the board of trustees, the Sisters of St. John Baptist (founded at Clewer, England, 1851, and affiliated in this country in 1881) undertook the charge of the school, with the hope that God may bless their endeavor for its prosperity and increased usefulness.

St. Helen's Hall aims to provide the best facilities for complete education during the whole of a girl's school life. A little maiden of five may begin in the kindergarten, where the work is chiefly well directed play, and ascend by gradual steps through primary, intermediate and academic departments, till in due time she receives a diploma as) the suitable reward of her years of interesting and well-ordered study. If after graduation she chooses to return for advanced work equivalent to the first and second years of college, or for a special course in music, art, or literature, St. Helen 's Hall will still supply all she needs. It is emphatically a Girls' School, for girls of all ages!, temperaments and desires, and as such has always held a unique position in the Northwest. No education is complete which neglects' the highest part of human nature, its spiritual side. This is met at St. Helen's Hall by the beautiful services of the Book of Common Prayer (Episcopal), held morning and evening in the chapel, and by such religious instructions as shall help the pupils to become Christian women.