This eclectic Chateauesque style building was constructed in 1899 by the Roman Catholic church. It was designed by Carl M. Neuhausen, architect of the Thomas Kearns Mansion and the Cathedral of the Madeleine, both located on South Temple Street. Bishop Lawrence Scanlan of the newly formed Salt Lake City Diocese began acquiring land for the orphanage but encountered financial problems. Jennie Judge Kearns, wife of mining magnate and U.S. Senator Thomas Kearns, donated $55,000 to purchase the land and cover the entire cost of construction.
The Kearns-St. Ann's Orphanage, operated by the Sisters of the Holy Cross, served the social, religious, and educational needs of many children for over fifty years. The children shared responsibility in the total operation of the facility, with the exception of accounts and records. The orphanage was converted to a parochial school in 1954, officially known as St. Ann's School, and had an initial enrollment of 240 students from kindergarten to fourth grade. The Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word assumed leadership of the school at that time. Each year thereafter an additional grade was added until all eight grades were included in the school. In anticipation of the school's restoration in the 1990s and to symbolize its link with the past, it was renamed Kearns-St. Ann School.