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St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parish (DC)

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St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parish (DC) is a Jesuit parish located in Washington, DC. It is located in the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus. The address is 19 Eye St NW; Washington, DC 20001-1400 and the phone number is 202 336-7211.


Gonzaga was founded by Father Anthony Kohlmann, a Jesuit, in 1821 and is the oldest educational facility in the original federal city of Washington. It was at first called Washington Seminary, operating under the charter of Georgetown College (now Georgetown University), and it was located on F Street, near 10th Street, N.W. in a building adjoining Saint Patrick's Church. The school was immediately popular among Catholic families and was well enough known in its early years to attract the attention of President John Quincy Adams, who visited the school to test the boys' Latin and Greek. However, there were financial problems that caused the Jesuits to withdraw in 1827: their order prohibited the charging of tuition for a day school youth education. Although it continued to be run by laity, Gonzaga did not come back under the control of the Jesuits until some twenty years later (with the ordinance regarding tuition changed) and President Zachary Taylor presided at the commencement exercises in 1849.

In 1858, Gonzaga was granted its own charter by Congress as a college empowered to confer degrees in the arts and sciences, which accounts for its name (Gonzaga College) to this day. Although some students did receive bachelor's degrees in the 19th century, Gonzaga no longer confers degrees, other than honorary doctoral degrees presented to commencement speakers or other notable guests. In 1871, the school moved to a building (now called Kohlmann Hall) in the Swampoodle area north of the US Capitol, just down the block from St. Aloysius Church, which had been built in 1859 and is now on the U.S. Register of Historic Buildings. Enrollment declined owing to the distance of the new neighborhood from the center, but the Jesuits persevered and by the end of the century the school was once again flourishing. A theater was built in 1896, and a large new classroom building (previously the Main Building and now called Dooley Hall) was opened in 1912.

The curriculum of Gonzaga from its founding until the late 20th century was at once rigorously classical and emphatically Catholic. Mastery of Latin and deep involvement in the Catholic religion were at its core. Standards were high, and many hopeful boys who lacked the necessary qualities for success were denied admittance.

Gonzaga benefited greatly from the fact that the row houses built in Swampoodle were largely occupied by Irish Catholics from the late 19th century on. Although Gonzaga always drew students from other parts of the city as well, the departure of the Swampoodle Irish for the suburbs in the mid-20th century and more especially their replacement by poorer non-Catholics, brought on another period of difficulties. A decline in enrollments and the great inner-city riot of 1968 led some to suggest that Gonzaga should be closed, or moved to a more affluent area. However, the Jesuits once again persisted, and the school survived. In the last years of the 20th century, the school even expanded, adding several new buildings and a large playing field and field house. Today Gonzaga has regained its former status. A recent Wall Street Journal editorial referred to the institution as "the premier Catholic high school of Washington."[1]

St. Aloysius

St. Aloysius is a parish church physically attached to Gonzaga. It was built in 1859. It is often used for school assemblies, masses, concerts, and graduation. The large painting above the altar is the work of Constantino Brumidi, who is famous for painting the frescoes on the interior of the dome of the US Capitol.

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Gonzaga College High School. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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