St. Charles College
Grand Coteau, Louisiana
A brief history of St. Charles College appears in the Times-Picayune, both in 1913 at its 75th anniversary and in 1922 at its closing. The Times-Picayune also gave regular coverage to campus events. The seal is from .
St. Charles College, the oldest Jesuit school in the South, was a boarding school for boys. As a school for lay students, it experienced a checkered history. Under the direction of Father Nicholas Pont, classes began in January of 1838. In 1852 the college was incorporated by the state and licensed to award degrees. During the Civil War Union troops occupied the grounds. From 1873 to 1880 and from 1891 to 1900 St. Charles served as a novitiate or scholasticate. In 1909 St. Charles once again became a high school and college for lay boys.
St. Charles operated on a six-year academic plan, accepting boys as young as 12. After four years of high school and two years of college, students received a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree. The curriculum emphasized mathematics, English, history, and geography. All students were required to take French. For students not wishing to attain a degree, there was a commercial program with stenography and typing.
Enrollment reached 175 in 1916, listed as the highest in school history. Both 1916 and 1917 saw graduating classes of ten, most receiving the Bachelor of Science degree. The school was strong in music with both a band and an orchestra. Prizes were awarded annually to winners of declamation.
During World War I, the campus hosted a student army corp. It also assisted in the war effort by offering a radio course for the military.
When fire destroyed the novitiate at St. Stanislaus in 1922, it was transferred to St. Charles, and the lay students of St. Charles were moved to Spring Hill College at Mobile, AL. Thus, the history of St. Charles as a lay college ended.
A 1910 postcard view of St. Charles College. (LSU Postcard Collection.
Bricks and Mortar
The cornerstone for the original building was laid in 1837. When classes began in January of 1838, the building was unheated, and the students slept in the same room in which they had classes. A second building was added in 1852. However, fires in 1902 and 1907 destroyed both of these buildings. A new building measuring 385 feet in length by 110 feet in width was completed in 1909. The ground floor contained fourteen classrooms, two parlors, two large studios, an exhibition hall and a refectory. The second floor contained the chapel, a second refectory, and 27 dorm rooms for faculty and visitors. The third floor contained two large dormitory rooms for the boys and 22 infirmary rooms. The central tower contained a fourth floor for storage. The building had a basement, steam heat, and electric lights. A chapel and a dining wing were added in 1963.
In 1972 the campus became the Jesuit Spirituality Center in which persons could practice the spiritual exercises of Loyola. It is still in operation today.
Colors: Red and Green
The major sport of St. Charles College was baseball, a sport they played well at both junior and senior levels. The 1914 junior team was declared state champions. Also in 1914 St. Charles joined the Louisiana Intercollegiate Athletic Association for football, baseball, and track—as well as music and oratory. In this conference they competed with such heavy weights as Southwestern Industrial (Louisiana-Lafayette), Louisiana Normal (Northwestern State), and Louisiana College. But their schedule also often included high schools and independent teams.
The 1915 football team was described as the best in the history of the school with victories over Louisiana Normal, Jefferson College and St. Paul College. Then team lost twice to Southwestern Industrial.