Annunciation School History

Ilion, New York

Annunciation School - Ilion, NY

As the population increased in the Mohawk Valley, the four missions of Ilion, Frankfort, Mohawk and Herkimer were eventually divided into separate parishes. By 1909, Mohawk, the last of the missions was detached from the responsibility of the Ilion parish of the Annunciation. At this time, the Reverend James B. Gilloon, then pastor of the Church of the Annunciation, realizing the poor physical condition and inadequacy of the Church on Main Street, sought permission to commence preparations for a new Church to serve the needs of the People of God.

Instead, the Most Reverend Edmund F. Gibbons, then Bishop of Albany, proposed a plan to erect a parish school to satisfy the growing need of Christ-centered education in the western frontier of the Albany diocese. Immediately, Fr. Gilloon set to work.

The faithful of the parish, delighted with the idea of having their own parish school, generously pledged their support.

In 1925, this plan became a reality. Under the direction of Edward Bedford of Ilion General Contractor, the tall beams were transformed into a monumental achievement of architecture and construction.

On September 6, 1926, the doors of this building were opened to 170 pupils enrolled in the first four grades. The Sisters of Mercy of the Albany Diocese were appointed to staff the new school.

Sister Mary Pius, principal, and Sisters Mary Margaret, Sebastian, and Alberta were the pioneer teachers.

Dedicated to the Mother of God, by Bishop Gibbons on October 25, 1926, this school has since been the pride of the parish in its spiritual, scholastic and social achievements.

Sister Mary Pius
Sister Mary Pius
First Principal

Gothic in design, the stately exterior of the school is faced with beautiful Indiana limestone, which has a tinge of iron, varying the color and affording a unique scheme of variety. This two-story type of construction with basement has a width of 120 feet and reaches back to a depth of 140 feet. Eight classrooms with ample chalkboard and bulletin board space, spacious cloakroom, and large gothic windows accommodate from 40 to 50 pupils.

The entire center and rear elevations comprise the auditorium, which is 40 feet wide and eighty feet long, a stage, twenty-five by thirty-five feet, two storerooms, two dressing rooms, a balcony and a fireproof projection room. The well-lighted hall has two ventilators, giving complete change of air every five minutes; possesses remarkable acoustic properties; has seven exits and a seating capacity of 800. This beautiful hall was then the largest in Ilion, and it served as host to many functions. Today it continues to be the center of activities - from student school assemblies and class movies, to adult society meetings and fashion shows, to youth dances and basketball games.

Annunciation School - 1949

Adjourning the auditorium on the right is a well-equipped kitchen with range, refrigerator-freezer, dishwasher, sinks and cupboards. It serves as an invaluable aid to parish societies. The basement of Annunciation School is the scene of the kindergarten classroom and playroom. It also has two lavatories finished in white tile and marble, two shower rooms, adjoining dressing rooms and lockers, maintenance office and stationery press.

In June 1931, the first graduating class of the School of the Annunciation proudly received their diplomas from Fr. James Gilloon. These twenty-five students initiated the tradition, which Annunciation Alumni hold so dearly - the combination of spiritual values with democratic ideals.

Reproduced from Parish Booklet - Annunciation Parish 1868 - 1968 with the permission of Father Joseph Benitende

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Created and maintained by Aileen Carney Sweeney - Class of 1974

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First Published October 1999 - Modified December 17, 2014