In 1884, Bishop John Keane bought this property and established Saint Joseph, making it the first-known Catholic congregation organized for African Americans in Virginia. The original congregation began in the basement of the all-white Saint Peter's Church in 1879, and grew to 50 members. During the years 1904-1968, this site also contained the Franciscan convent, still standing. Saint Mary's; a two-room school for grades K-12, later named Van de Vyver; a parish house; a trade school; and a two-year business college, Van de Vyver Institute. In 1969, the church and the school were formally cloed by Bishop John J. Russell.