‘Hidden jewel’ St. Mary-of-the-Woods in Indiana now a national landmark

By Catholic News Service
Wednesday, March 21, 2018

ST. MARY-OF-THE-WOODS, Ind.  — When Katie Spanuello Rahman recalls the campus of her alma mater St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, she paints an idyllic picture.

“It was like living in a fairy-tale setting, with a marble staircase to ascend to my room” in Le Fer Residence Hall, said the 1993 alumna. “I always took great pride in the castlelike buildings and the surrounding natural beauty of the trees and the religious shrines on campus.”

Providence Sister Dawn Tomaszewski, a 1974 alumna, agrees. She is now general superior of the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, who founded the college almost 180 years ago.

“One of the things people say all the time is, ‘This (property) is a hidden jewel,’” she noted about both the campus and the sisters’ grounds. “But we don’t want it to be hidden.”

Now that jewel is being held up for all to see — on a national level. Last fall, the grounds of the college and of the Sisters of Providence were listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the St. Mary-of-the-Woods National Historic District.

The designation recognizes the national architectural, educational and historic contribution of the college and religious congregation, both founded in 1840.

Since their founding, the Providence sisters established numerous parish schools in Indiana and Illinois, and went on to minister throughout the United States and in China, Peru and Taiwan.

The district includes well-known structures such as the Church of the Immaculate Conception and Le Fer Residence Hall. It also includes sites such as the sisters’ cemetery, and objects such as an outdoor Stations of the Cross.


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