This impressive building is The Holy Names Academy. Originally built in 1891 by Architect, Patrick Donohoe, the building was later remodeled by the Spokane Architect firm, Preusse & Zittel, who designed the north and south wings in 1903. The Academy served the Spokane area as a girls private school for over 80 years until 1975, when declining enrollments led to its close. The Holy Names Academy is a significant monument to the educational history of Spokane and the Inland Northwest.
The Academy was born out of the works of the Sisters of the Holy Name, a Catholic order founded in Quebec in 1844. "The purpose behind the order was to provide Christian education to children in remote areas of Canada." The order expanded into the Pacific Northwest by 1859, and successfully established an Academy in Portland, Oregon. In 1880, the Sisters opened an Academy in Seattle.
In 1888, the Sisters sent members to Spokane to open up a school at the request of Father Joseph Cataldo. The Jesuit priest saw the need for an institution for women in Spokane that was similar to the recently opened, Gonzaga College.
On August 31, 1891, the Holy Names Academy opened with 12 students. Upon the opening ceremony, the presiding Reverend Leopold Van Gorp, S J. told those assembled, "Now where will your children be able to receive such an intellectual and moral training as at the hands of the Sisters who have devoted their lives to such an object not from mercenary motives, but from their love of God and from motives of charity."
Enrollment to the Academy grew and by 1903 the number of students had grown large enough to prompt the Sister to hire the Preusse & Zittel firm to design two new wings to Patrick Donohoe's original layout. An amendment to Washington State's school laws in 1907 enabled the Sister's to establish private normal schools at the Academy. The Academy received accreditation by the State Board of Education on December, 31, 1907, making it the first private normal school in Washington State.
Architecturally, this building reflects Victorian institutional design in Spokane. The original architect, Patrick Donohoe was a practicing architect in Spokane from the years 1888-1891. The building was improved in 1903 by German immigrants Herman Preusse and Julius Zittel, who had a partnership in Spokane from 1893 to 1910. These architects are also responsible for a number of other works in Spokane such as St. Aloysius's church, several Gonzaga buildings, Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral, as well as several residences in the city's South Hill and Brown's addition neighborhoods.