In 1863, Father John Tanzer, the pastor of St. Patricks Church, established a three-room school in a white shingled bungalow at 417 97th Street. Despite the hardships of the Civil War, the first Catholic school in the area flourished. A permanent brick building was dedicated and in use by 1877. That same year, Sister Regina Herbert led a small band of Sisters of St. Dominic to the wilds of rural Yellow Hook (now known as Bay Ridge). Dominican sisters taught at St. Patrick for the next 126 years.
St. Patricks grew and a larger, two-story structure was built in 1902. That building was soon full so during the Depression years yet another larger building was dedicated on 95th Street. In the late 1950s, a second school building was completed on 97th Street to house a gymnasium, auditorium and an additional 10 classrooms. During the 1950-1960s, St. Patricks enrollment reached close to 1,300 students. The school filled two buildings and a brave 29 sisters taught in its classrooms.
Todays St. Patricks is housed at the 97th Street building. Lay faculty now take the place of the Dominican sisters. The ideals of Sister Herbert and the Dominican order remain the guiding principles of St. Patricks.
St. Patrick became a Catholic Academy in 2013 as part of Preserving the Vision, the strategic plan for Catholic education in the Diocese of Brooklyn.
Last year, air conditioners were installed in all classroom spaces and light fixtures were upgraded throughout the building. The Library was renovated to create a welcoming space to be used for collaborative work and to encourage the love of reading. The science lab space was also renovated to house the LabLearner Program: an in-school STEM laboratory for physical, earth and life science experimental activities for PreK through Grade 8 students. A grant of $85,000 from the Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Trust funded the five station LabLearner labs’ furniture and equipment; installation, curriculum and student workbooks, and professional development for teachers. An outdated computer lab space was converted into a PreKindergarten classroom with a wood floor and its own restroom.