History of Cardinal Gibbons Institute
In November 1916, three Catholic priests, Fathers LaFarge, Emerick, and Matthews met with blacks from St. Mary's county to discuss their plans to have a national industrial school. In May 1917, land was acquired for this school. Archbishop James Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore, Maryland donated $8,000 towards the purchase of this land. Consequently, the new school was named after the Archbishop - Cardinal Gibbons Institute. The Knights of Columbus National Board of Directors donated $38,000 towards the erection of the school building in February 1922. Archbishop Michael J. Curley of Baltimore, Maryland approved the general plans for the institute.
Cardinal Gibbons Institute was opened in September 1924 and dedicated in October 1924. Victor H. Daniel was hired as the institute's first principal and his wife, Constance, was hired as its assistant principal. The institute's first graduating class held its commencement in June 1929.
1924 to 1967
Cardinal Gibbons Institute
Importance of Cardinal Gibbons Institute
The Cardinal Gibbons Institute was St. Mary's County's first high school built to educate blacks. Although the institute was located in Ridge, Maryland, it provided academic, vocational, and religious instruction to
black students from across the United States.
Cardinal Gibbons Institute also played a significant role in the education of adults living in southern Maryland by way of its extension services program. Agriculture, Health and Home Economics were some of the primary subjects taught in this program. In addition, the institute's instructors were instrumental in starting one of Maryland's first federal credit unions operated by blacks.
The financial difficulties resulting from the great depression reportedly caused the closing of Cardinal Gibbons Institute in 1933. Helena M. Graydon was hired as the interim administrator of the institute. She oversaw the extension services provided to the community.
In September 1952, the Oblate Sisters of Providence began their instruction at Cardinal Gibbons Institute under direction of Mother Mary Anselm Benley. Later the institute also became known as Cardinal Gibbons High School. In June 1967, Cardinal Gibbons Institute was closed reportedly due to financial difficulties. In the summer of 1972, Cardinal Gibbons Institute with the exception of its cupola was demolished. In June 1982, the first Cardinal Gibbons Institute/High School class reunion was held.
On May 28, 1986, at the 50th anniversary of St. Peter Claver Church in Ridge, Maryland, Sister Mary Paul Lee proposed the idea of erecting a memorial
in honor of Cardinal Gibbons Institute. James B. Forrest, Sr. donated the first $100.00 towards the erection of the memorial. In September 1988, the first meeting of the Cardinal Gibbons Institute Memorial Committee was held at St. Peter Claver Chruch's McKenna Hall. In December 1988, work began on the renovation of the Institutes original cupola.
Cardinal Gibbons Institute Memorial Dedicated: September 1, 1990.