History of Bethlehem

Bethlehem has served a vital role in the education of the students of central Kentucky since 1819. Bishop Benedict Joseph Flaget asked the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth to open a school for the education of the children in and around Bardstown. It was named Bethlehem because it was the "firstborn" mission to extend beyond the motherhouse. Sisters Harriet Gardiner, Polly Beavin, and Nancy Lynch staffed the school located on Fifth Street.

Bethlehem was expanded in 1910 with a new wing added to the existing facilities. The addition was blessed in 1911, the same year that St. Joseph Preparatory High School for boys was founded. The boys attended "St. Joe Prep," as the school was affectionately called, while the girls continued at Bethlehem. The first high school graduating class was in 1913. From 1911 until 1953, Bethlehem continued as a co-educational elementary school and a girls high school.

With the opening of St. Joseph Parochial Elementary School in 1953, Bethlehem began operating solely as a parish high school for girls. St. Joseph Parish owned both the schools, but the Sisters continued to staff the girls school.

In 1959 the girls moved to their new home on West Stephen Foster Avenue. The original Bethlehem Academy building was demolished, and the land on which it stood was sold in 1962.

In 1968, St. Joe Prep closed and in 1970 Bethlehem became a co-educational high school as it continues today. Bethlehem is now the only Catholic high school in the Louisville Archdiocese outside of Jefferson County and serves eight counties and thirty-five parishes.

Did You Know?

The name "Bethlehem" was chosen by the Sisters of Charity to signify their "firstborn" mission beyond the motherhouse.

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