Into history?

If you’re a history buff, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods is a treasure trove of architecture and artifacts.

Founded in 1840, Saint Mother Theodore and the Sisters of Providence contributed significantly to settling Indiana.

Did you know that 66 buildings, sites, structures and objects at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods are listed on the National Register of Historic Places? Seventeen of those were built during the leadership of Mother Mary Cleophas Foley, general superior from 1890-1926. The Church of the Immaculate Conception was completed in 1907. Other buildings of this era include: The Woodland Inn (1894); Guerin Hall and the Conservatory of Music (1913); the O’Shaughnessy Dining Hall (1921) and The Blessed Sacrament Chapel and Le Fer Hall (both in 1924).

Learn more about the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Historic District.


“The style of most of the buildings … are high-style Beaux-Arts. It’s wonderful, classical European. … For Indiana, I’d say it’s rare to have a campus like this in what is a rural area.”

Tommy Kleckner

Director of the Western Regional Office for Indiana Landmarks

“We certainly hope this designation on the National Register of Historic Places will lead more people to discover this treasure we call Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.”

Sister Dawn Tomaszewski

Sisters of Providence general superior
The first Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto was celebrated Feb. 11, 1928. The grotto was built as a replica of the Lourdes grotto in France. Le Fer Hall, built in 1924, is in the background.

Here are some of the great buildings you’ll get to explore.

  • Saint Anne Shell Chapel


  • Church of the Immaculate Conception


  • O’Shaughnessy Dining Room


  • Blessed Sacrament Chapel


  • The Lodge


  • White Violet Center for Eco-Justice

    1948 (formerly a laundry building)

SP icon

“The house was a solid, but primitive frame construction consisting of two rooms with a porch below and a loft used to store corn above. One of the two rooms downstairs and half the loft above were kindly offered for the Sisters’ use, the Thralls family retaining the other half of the house.”

Sister Mary Borromeo Brown

In History of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods

Throughout the grounds you’ll also see stones which mark some extremely noteworthy sites.

Marker of arrival

Arrival rock

You can stand where Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and her traveling companions first stepped down on the sacred ground of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods on October 22, 1840 after surviving an arduous, four-month voyage from France.

First Mass

First Mass

By the ravine near Providence Hall you can see the site of the first Mass offered at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods by Bishop Bruté, first bishop of Vincennes, January 6, 1837.

First Providence Convent

First Providence Convent

This spot marks the first convent which was first the home of Sarah and Joseph Thralls who generously shared their home for more than a month with 10 members of the Thralls family, Mother Theodore and her five French companions and four American postulants. The home was purchased for the sisters in late November 1840 by the Diocese of Vincennes.

Convent Cemetery

Take a walk through our Convent Cemetery and see the final resting place of more than 2100 great women who dedicated their lives to the Sisters of Providence. If you’d like more information about where you can find a specific sister, let us help.

Learn more

Are you doing research?

Connect with our archives department and let us know how we can help.

Photo albums

SP History

The Sisters of Providence story


History books and other reference materials


about the Sisters of Providence


to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods

Saint Mother Theodore Guerin

Our Foundress

Saint Mother Theodore Guerin