St. Columba School enjoys a rich and vibrant history, dating back to 1882. The Sisters of Mercy began their educational endeavors in Durango in a rented house on Grand Avenue, known as St. Mary’s Industrial and Day school. Soon after, a one-room St. Columba schoolhouse, adjacent to St. Columba church, was built. Construction on a new 20-room St. Mary’s Academy building east of the church was started in 1883. This building was the first three-story building in Durango and housed the convent, the school, and for a short time, the hospital. For the next 25 years, the Catholic children of Durango were served by two schools, St. Columba and St. Mary’s Academy.
When it became clear that one school would better serve the community, arrangements were made to operate St. Columba School utilizing the St. Mary’s Academy facilities, under the leadership of the Sisters of Mercy. As evidenced by a wealth of old newspaper articles, school events have always been a blessing to St. Columba parish.
In 1925 a new school building was completed; it was the tallest building in La Plata County at the time. This building, now home to St. Columba Preschool and Middle School, has been renamed the Hauser Building in honor of Sister Edith Marie Hauser, principal of St. Columba from 1983 to 2010.
In 1956, as elementary school enrollments grew after World War II, a major fundraising effort was undertaken for a new school building to alleviate overcrowding. That building, completed in 1958, is home to our elementary school today. Our community has been blessed with Catholic school tradition for 130 years, and we look forward to a thriving future!
For more history of St. Columba Parish, please review our detailed history book written by Mark House, St. Columba Church: A sign of God’s presence in Durango, compiled in 2006 for the Parish’s 125th anniversary.