Sisters, SMWC unveil historic district sign marker
An event six years in the making culminated on Monday, Sept. 25, as many Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, joined administrators from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) to unveil the official sign marker for the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Historic District.
Because of the distinction, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods is officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
During the unveiling, Sisters of Providence General Superior Sister Dawn Tomaszewski, SP, along with Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett and SMWC Interim President Brennan J. Randolph, MBA, spoke to those in attendance.
A ‘Little Piece of Europe’
Sister Dawn explained to the crowd how Indiana Landmarks Western Regional Office Director Tommy Kleckner, who was unable to attend the unveiling, was influential in helping Saint Mary-of-the-Woods receive the recognition.
“Tommy always said that Saint Mary-of-the-Woods looked like “a little piece of Europe had been plunked down in the backwoods of Indiana,’” Sister Dawn said. “And this plaque represents all of the hard work and dedication of those who came before us.”
Sister Dawn said that 66 buildings located at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, many of which are Sisters of Providence buildings.
“Many important events of our lives have taken place in (the Church),” Sister Dawn said, pointing out how construction of the building began in 1886, but wasn’t finished until 1907. “We are committed to the ongoing care of all of these buildings.
“And the oldest building, The Saint Anne Shell Chapel, was consecrated in 1876,” she continued. “When you walk in, I think it does take your breath away. It is an example of our ongoing dedication to historic preservation.”
Randolph echoed Sister Dawn’s sentiments.
“We appreciate the partnership that exists,” he said, highlighting a handful of the buildings on the SMWC side of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. “Our students love the buildings, they love the campus and they love the experience they get here.
“Our students may look different now, but the buildings look the same.”
Mayor Bennett added he always enjoys his time at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
“I love coming out here,” Bennett said. “This historic marker is so important. This is such a peaceful, wonderful historic place.”
‘No Place Like Saint Mary-of-the-Woods’
The Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Historic District is approximately 67 acres, mostly wooded. It is deemed significant in two criteria: It’s association with events and people who have made important contributions to broad patterns of U.S. history, particularly in education and religion, and the district characteristics and high artistic values of architecture at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
The historic district features a collection of high-styled buildings, constructed between the 1880s and 1960s. Many were designed by architectural firm, Bohlen and Son, based in Indianapolis. The buildings are examples of the Classical Revival, Renaissance and Beaux-Arts style.
Many of the buildings listed include Guerin Hall, Le Fer Hall, Hulman Hall, and the Rooney Library, along with the Church of the Immaculate Conception, The Blessed Sacrament Chapel, Sisters of Providence Motherhouse/Providence Hall and The Saint Anne Shell Chapel.
“There is no place like Saint Mary-of-the-Woods,” Sister Dawn added.