St. Agnes School

The Story of William C. Doane

A Catholic school for girls

The St. Agnes School was founded in 1870 by the first Bishop of Alban, William C. Doane, who lived at 29 Elk St, right down the road. It was later opened in 1872 as a school for Catholic women (Waite, Bender, 78). This Episcopal school was both a boarding school and a commuter school. It also housed a children’s hospital at the same sight (Bi-centennial, 687).

Bishop Doane seemed to be an activist for women’s rights, as he created the school; however, this was not true. The New York Times stated that Bishop Doane was one of the “prominent anti-women’s rights men” of this era (New York Times, June 7, 1895). The article goes on to that that Bishop Doane gave a speech to the graduating class of 1895, discouraging women from doing “a man’s job” The New York Times writes that Doane said, “One gets sick and tired of the way in which the talk of woman’s vocation fills the air... in the parade and push of its claims for recognition of what are called ‘its rights.’” (New York Times, 1895: New Womanhood Denounced). He gave the graduating class of 1909 a very similar speech. The New York Times quotes him saying, “I am disposed to think that the quiet and decent appeal of a few of the so-called suffragists will be so drowned out in the sort of howling-dervish performance of the so-called Suffragettes that they will fail of any effect.” (New York Times, 1909: New Woman a Freak).

Still, the school proved to be extremely successful. Chauncey M. Depew’s niece, Elsie Depew Strong, attended the institution where she graduated on June 6, 1894 (New York Times, June 6, 1894). Depew was a politician in the New York State Assembly, the New York Secretary of State, a member of the Senate, and was even nominated for president 1988 (Chauncey M. Depew). There were numerous advertisements posted in the New York Times concerning new students coming to the school. In 1895, they note that they teach students languages, arts, and music. However, only two years later, there is a big change. Although arts and music are still taught at the school, the school now also focuses on college preparation for “preparation for all colleges” (New York Times, 1895, 1897).

In 1975, the school merged with the Catholic Kenwood Academy and became the Doane Stuart School, after the Bishop Doane and Mother Jane E. Stuart, a catholic educator. They wanted to show students to be tolerant of other religions. On their webpage, The Dane Stuart School boasts, “Doane Stuart is the Nation’s only successfully merged Catholic and Protestant school” (The Doane Stuart School: History). An article in the Times Union writes that “Its [the school’s] mission has always been to welcome and embrace all faiths” (Times Union, 2008). This still holds true today. In 2008, after thirty years, Doane Stuart chose to succeed from the Catholic Society of the Religious of the Sacred Heart; therefor ending their religious affiliation (Times Union, 2008). They wanted to allow more religious freedom, and truly go beyond advocating for “tolerance” of other religions. They now allow students to study many religions, and promote interfaith (Doane Stuart: about).

Street Address:

Hawk and Elk St [map]

Cite this Page:

“St. Agnes School,” Albany Walks for Health, accessed October 18, 2019,

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