Motherhouse for Dome

On Sunday, May 26, 1929, The Oregonian newspaper reported that the Sisters of St. Mary and St. Mary’s Institute would soon have a new home, built on 35 acres at a cost of $350,000.

The article includes an early sketch of the building, which was designed by the Portland firm of Barrett & Logan. It describes the proposed structure as “entirely fireproof…of reinforced concrete faced with brick and trimmed with terra cotta.” The article notes: “At the present time, the sisters have charge of two academies, two homes for orphan boys, two high schools and six parochial schools.”

Groundbreaking took place on March 19, 1930: the Feast of St. Joseph. On September 22, 1930, that now historic building became home to the Sisters and their school. In the new building, St. Mary’s Institute had a new name: St. Mary of the Valley.

As the struggles of the Great Depression continued, the Sisters received approval from Rome to build a chapel and dining area on the south end of the central wing – if Archbishop Edward Howard also approved the project. He did but required that the Sisters wait one year. Again, groundbreaking took place on the Feast of St. Joseph: March 19, 1936.

The dedication of the chapel – dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Help took place on Oct. 25, 1936, and marked the beginning of the Sisters’ 50th Jubilee.

A mortgage of $200,000 allowed the Sisters to finally build the wing on the east side of the Motherhouse in the early 1950s.

Our historic home: video tours of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Motherhouse