Today in Bay View History - February 5th

Mandi Grattan

Excerpt from  The Sisters of Mercy Centennial in the Diocese of Providence, 1951:

"The year 1948 was scarcely a month old when disaster struck. On February 5, a tragic fire completely destroyed the 60-year-old frame building containing classrooms and dormitories and Bay View appeared to be destined to become merely a memory.

However, even while the embers smoldered, plans were being made for a greater Bay View. Within a week, school was functioning in the Convent and in classrooms provided at Brightridge Elementary School and Riverside Junior High. The kindness, charity, and generosity of the public school authorities of East Providence, as well as that of so many individuals who offered assistance, will always be cherished and held in honor. Truly 1948 was the “zero year”, but in the living of it was found a new hope for the future, a firm determination to overcome obstacles, and a strong bond of loyalty to St. Mary’s.

Work was begun at once on plans and construction of a modern school building. On January 31, 1949, within less than a year from the day of the fire, the new school was occupied. It has a capacity of 1,200 students and was erected for $1,200,000. For beauty, efficiency and economy, in simplicity, design, fireproof construction, and achievement of purpose and operation, it is today of the most outstanding, if not the first, of such schools in New England.


On the left of the Convent, which withstood the fire, stands the newly completed St. Joseph’s Hall, a modern fireproof residence, erected at a cost of $800,000. The property consists of 40 acres and today the school is staffed by 30 Sisters and four lay teachers. Its present enrollment is 803 students beginning at pre-primary grade and continuing through high school. It's graduates number 917."


Fun facts:

·      At 72 years old, Mercy Hall and St. Joseph's Hall are now older than the original school building was when it burned down after 60 years!

·      McAuley Hall, formally the convent,  survived the fire and is 112 years old!

·      This was not the first time there was a fire at Bay View! In April 1906, a fire destroyed part of the original building.