History of the Loretto Academy

Growth and Prosperity for the Academy

Letter to Clotilde Amador
Letter to Clotilde Amador mentioning the smallpox epidemic in Las Cruces.

Mother Praxedes was transferred to Loretto Heights College in Denver, Colorado in 1893, and later served as Mother Superior of the Order of Loretto. The strong foundation she provided allowed the Loretto Academy in Las Cruces to grow and prosper. This growth was not without setbacks, such as a smallpox epidemic which swept through the academy between 1897 and 1899. Attendance was reduced to one student; all others were either sick or withdrawn to avoid the epidemic. Once the danger of smallpox was over, enrollment began to increase to the point where two major additions were needed for the Academy building.

picture of original building
The flat roofed original building and the two new wings.

In 1905, the West Wing, a mission-style building, was erected to support the increased enrollment. It was comprised of a chapel, two dormitories, five classrooms and a studio. In 1907 the renown El Paso architect Henry C. Trost designed the East Wing of the Academy, complete with his trademark intricate stonework. This wing housed music rooms and a wardrobe and community room for the Sisters. The chapel was moved to the second floor and its former location was made into sleeping apartments. A laundry with electric appliances was built, as was the Sacred Heart Infirmary to separate sick students from the others.

In 1920 the Sisters celebrated their Golden Jubilee, marking their fiftieth year in Las Cruces.


Information based on the thesis The Sisters of Loretto in Las Cruces: The Education and "Americanization" of a Frontier Community, 1870-1943 by Wendy C. Simpson.