Lost WindsorSchoolsWindsor

St Francis School – Tuscarora St

St Francis School – 1913

Located on the south side of Tuscarora Street, just west of Marentette, was the former St Francis Separate School. A building lost to Windsor’s history, but a building that I have recently discovered had a very interesting history.

1937 Fire Insurance Map

The building was know as St Francis School, but following the amalgamation of 1935, the new City of Windsor found itself in the situation of having duplicate names on many buildings and streets. One of the duplicate schools was St. Francis, which also was located in the former town of Sandwich.

Early in 1935, following fire inspections, Chief Clarence DeFields, condemned the building as “unsafe and unsanitary”

The old building, which has been condemned for the second time, the first 35 years ago when it stood behind Hotel Dieu Hospital, is nothing more than a fire trap, the report states.

The fire escapes are old and obsolete. In a fire drill, according to the chief, the upper corridors became congested when pupils from the lower floor were leaving. The building is both unsafe and unsanitary, the chief stated. The school board is given until the beginning of the fall term to find other accommodations for the 311 pupils.

  Francis’ School was built in 1891, originally as an annex to Hotel Dieu. Sister Marie Ouellette, one of the oldest members of the religious order there, recalls that it was constructed as an adjunct to be used as an orphanage for colored children. Sister Marie has been stationed at the hospital since a year after its opening in 1889.

  Some years later, the exact time has been lost in the flourishing growth of the city, the two-story frame building was condemned, the chief remembered in his report. Sister Marie recalls that it was moved to Goyeau street, and following the disastrous fire which razed St. Alphonsus’ School in 1911, was used as the parish school during the rebuilding.

It was subsequently moved to its present position on Tuscarora street, and the outside reconstructed with brick veneer.

BORDER CITIES STAR – APRIL 1, 1935 P. 3

The building started life as an annex to Hotel Dieu hospital, used as an orphanage, and then moved, two different times for use as a school building. The school board appealed the condemnation order, and being in the middle of the great depression, borrowed against future budgets to make repairs and modifications to the chief’s satisfaction.

With the duplicate school names, St Francis in Sandwich kept it’s name and St Francis in Windsor was renamed Immaculate Conception to match its Parrish home around the corner. The structure continued to be used as a school, under the Immaculate Conception name, for another 23 years. In 1958, the building was finally demolished, and was replaced with a modern building. The school site was closed in 2011, and was previously listed for sale.

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