Our History

Founded in 1881, Sacred Heart has challenged each student to maximize her own potential for 135 years – but our history goes back further than that. Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat established the first Sacred Heart school in France in 1801; within 50 years, there were two dozen Sacred Heart schools throughout North America.

Saint Madeleine Sophie came of age during the French Revolution - a period of significant complexity and change. Centered in personal and communal prayer, she disrupted the status quo of her day by setting out to give young women a classical education.

Saint Madeleine Sophie’s goal was to educate girls to improve and even transform society. Her vision of empowering each student to maximize her unique potential to make a difference continues to guide Sacred Heart schools today.

From its inception, Sacred Heart was governed by a strong commitment to educate the whole child, addressing her intellectual, spiritual, social and emotional development. By the 1930s, the school had outgrown its original space on Madison Avenue and 54th Street and moved into the Otto Kahn Mansion on East 91st Street; in the 1940s the Society acquired the building next door, the James Burden Mansion. Since then, the school has been housed in these two beautiful landmarked buildings, which provide an extraordinary learning environment.

In 2014, after decades of tremendous academic progress and the school acquired a new building at 406 East 91st Street. Thanks to an ambitious capital campaign and the generosity of the 91st Street community, the school was able to unveil its new Athletics and Wellness Center in September 2014. With a regulation-size pool, a regulation-size court, and a full floor devoted to health and wellness, the 50,000-square-foot facility marks a new chapter in the school’s history. Enrollment currently stands at 725 young women from the pre-kindergarten through grade 12. The curriculum is recognized for its rigor and depth, and the academic program is accredited by both the National Association of Independent Schools and the New York Association of Independent Schools.

Click here to purchase a copy of Convent of the Sacred Heart: A History in New York City, published in honor of our school's 125th anniversary in 2006.