WE HAPPILY INVITE YOU TO DELVE INTO THE BEAUTY AND CHALLENGE OF ST PETER CLAVER SCHOOL, TAMPA, FLORIDA with SR MARIA GORETTI AND THE STAFF OF St. Peter Claver Catholic School. A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY. This is the first of four interviews.
Late in 1893, the Jesuit Fathers at Sacred Heart Church bought property on Morgan Street for the purpose of establishing a school under the name of St. Peter Claver for the children of the African American community. By February 2, 1894, the necessary repairs had been made and two Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary began classes with sixteen students.
On the night of February 12, 1894, the school building was destroyed by fire – an admitted case of arson. A notice tacked upon a big oak tree in front of the ruins was reprinted in the newspaper the following day:
“This inscription is posted in this place to say that the late fire on these grounds was not caused by any ill feeling to the Catholic Church, but because the citizens do not propose to submit to a negro school in the midst of the white and retired resident portion of the city; and warn that in case another institution of the same character is operated in this vicinity it too will meet the same or worse fate; and to persist in the same line will certainly cause destruction of the convent and your other Churches. Remember, this is positive.”
Source: The House of Chronicles of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.