Our school has a rich 60 year history of Catholic education in the Lasallian and Benedictine tradition. Take a stroll back through time and find out more about Archbishop Murray Memorial High School, Hill High School and Hill-Murray School.
For the Sisters of St. Benedict at St. Paul’s Priory on Summit Avenue in St. Paul, 1958 was a “big year.” On May 10 of that year, the cornerstone was laid for a new school in a “rural” part of the east side of St. Paul. They opened their doors the following September to 211 ninth grade girls, naming the school after the man whose vision for the school for girls on the east side provided the impetus for the move. Sadly, Archbishop Murray died the year before the school became a reality. A north wing (now the music area) and an adjacent farmhouse served as a home for the Sisters who taught at the school until the move to the new, nearby monastery on a cold, blustery day in January 1965.
AMMHS graduated its first class in 1962. Twelve more classes would follow before the realities and financial challenges associated with declining enrollment spurred the merger with the all-boys Hill High School in 1971.
Most historians would likely say that thirteen years is a mere instant in the world’s course of events. But, what an argument they would receive from those thirteen graduating classes of AMMHS! The legacy they created in that brief time carried forward at the merger and remains a foundation for Hill-Murray today. That legacy…the courage to begin a new school on a piece of prairie, a faith that God would carry the day, standard of excellence, and the Benedictine principles of hospitality serves today’s students well.
BEGINNINGS: HILL HIGH SCHOOL
As construction was beginning on Archbishop Murray Memorial High School, less than a mile west on Larpenteur Avenue, Hill High School for boys was being established by the archdiocese under the leadership of Archbishop William O’Brady. Funded by the parishes of Minneapolis and St. Paul and through a large sum from the estate of James J. Hill and Mary T. Hill, the school became a reality. On September 1, 1959, eight Christian Brothers were sent to formally open the school, which enrolled its first class of 280 freshmen and 160 sophomores.
Seven lay teachers joined the Brothers as its first faculty. Enrollment increased to 802 in 1960 and 1,119 in 1961, when it graduated its first class of 157 students. The school established itself as an educational institution dedicated to excellence in both academics and cocurriculars and committed to the ideals of the Christian Brothers. By 1964, 1,274 boys crowded the halls of the new school.
However, like many Catholic schools across the nation, Hill experienced enrollment declines and rising costs by the late ‘60s. And, in 1971, the decision was made to work with the Benedictine Sisters to form a coed school located at the Archbishop Murray site.
Hill alumni, to this day, speak with reverence about the guidance of the Christian Brothers who taught them, the academic standards, school spirit, and the camaraderie of their classmates. Hill boys carried those traditions with them at the merger, and those standards remain a part of the foundation on which Hill-Murray thrives today.
HILL & MURRAY BECOME ONE
Combining two traditions, faculties, cocurricular programs…and two cultures was not always easy. Both student bodies had misgivings about the new school, though most recognized the need for it. It took the willingness to compromise, the commitment to succeed, and the dogged determination to push on – always looking for God’s guidance along the way. And that’s what the founders of Hill-Murray did.
In 1971, the doors opened to 1,200 boys and girls. It was a transition marked by new friends, new schedules, crowded halls and cafeteria, and classes in the Monastery and at Hill. In athletic competition, the new school celebrated a state championship in hockey, a state tourney berth in wrestling, Central Catholic Conference championship in baseball, the best record ever for the school’s boys’ basketball team, and a CCC second place finish for the football Pioneers.
A new student council was organized, with new responsibilities, including the sponsorship of a “Get-Together” dance to kick off the year. Three girls earned a spot on the tennis team, which had been an all-boys’ team, and went on to become members of the “Letterman’s Club.” The first Omega rolled off the press, the largest yearbook created in either of the former schools’ histories. And the first prom was held at the Leamington Hotel in Minneapolis, with Jules Hermann and his orchestra as the featured entertainment. The Mothers Club also prepared a dawn breakfast for the partygoers in the H-M cafeteria. Three band and choral concerts were held, and a tradition begun by Murray students – the Christmas party for Franklin Elementary students – became a part of the Hill-Murray tradition, still alive today. The Matchmaker, Oliver, and a homecoming victory over rival, Cretin, were also memorable events for the school’s inaugural year.
The first year became the bedrock for Hill-Murray as it is today. New tradition, blending the histories and cultures of both Hill and Archbishop Murray are still woven into the fabric of the Hill-Murray community. It is a fabric rich in its texture, so durable that it has stood the test of time. We still celebrate that richness.