Our History

At St. Bernard Academy, we trace our rich history back to Mother Catherine McAuley, who founded the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland in 1831.

In 1866, six Sisters of Mercy came to Nashville and opened Saint Bernard Academy to 400 female students. Forty years later, the Sisters moved the school to our current location in Hillsboro Village, adding on a new high school building in 1960.

In the fall of 1988, parents of the school formed a not-for-profit foundation and purchased the high school building from the Sisters of Mercy, ushering in our new era as an independent, co-educational elementary school.

Today, St. Bernard Academy is comprised of the original high school building and several additions serving 386 students in Junior Kindergarten through 8th Level. Our campus fully supports student life and enrichment activities with several distinctive features including a chapel, science lab, music room, art studio, student support center, and new space for additional fine arts, administration, and aftercare services.


A brief history of the academy


Six Sisters of Mercy arrive in Nashville from Dublin, Ireland to open St. Bernard Academy in downtown adjacent to the State Capitol.



Mercy Sisters halt classes and spend five weeks caring for the sick and dying during the Nashville Cholera Epidemic.



St. Bernard Academy and Convent move to 21st Avenue South campus.



A new wing is added to the St. Bernard Convent building including a large chapel, cafeteria, and additional sleeping quarters for the Sisters.



SBA expands to include the high school building at the corner of Bernard Avenue and 24th Avenue and is considered state of the art for its time, especially since it was air conditioned.



SBA parents purchase the school from the Sisters of Mercy. SBA becomes the first elementary school in the country to be purchased by a nonprofit group of parents.



SBA completes an extensive campus renovation and building initiative to add the James W. Carell Dining Hall, the Catherine McAuley Chapel, and a new art room and Kindergarten.



SBA launches Building Our Future to expand its campus and provide new opportunities for its growing student body.



SBA opens a 16,000 square foot expansion including a new entrance on Bernard Avenue, new offices, new classrooms, and a new multipurpose space.  The opening coincides with the school’s 150th anniversary.


SBA Through The Years

Take a journey below from St. Bernard Academy's past to present — 151 years in the making!