The Grotto at St Mary’s – c 1940

April 28, 2014

A fixture of South Windsor was the grotto behind St Mary’s Academy. I have heard stories before from lots of different people who grew up in South Windsor who have memories of playing in and around the grotto.

Anyone out there have any stories to share?

9 Responses to The Grotto at St Mary’s – c 1940

  1. Mike k on April 28, 2014 at 9:55 am

    A picture of this was featured on the Stars blog “From the Vault” a few weeks back, the caption was “The grotto at St. Mary’s Academy in South Windsor is pictured on June 10, 1933″

  2. MWANNICK on April 28, 2014 at 10:52 am

    I know that St Mary’s is gone and houses are in it’s place ,but is the grotto still there ??? Or is it also torn down ???? Does anybody know what happened to it , it seems like sacriledge to have tore it down….

  3. Mike k on April 28, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Apparently this structure was originally built at the second St. Mary’s Acad downtown, it was disassembled and rebuilt in South Windsor. There is and extensive article in the June 10 1933 edition of the Border Cities Star, page 19,
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=lIaPce-xyHYC&dat=19330610&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

  4. Kevin on April 28, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    @MWANNICK. The conversion of the St. Mary’s property to a residential subdivision – St. Mary’s Gate – began within a year of the academy being demolished in 1977. The property was completely in-filled with houses in less than 5 years. It is a garden pattern subdivision in the middle of a traditional grid pattern. The surrounding houses were built in the 1950s and 1960s. There are no remnants from the original property. Initially, the original gates to the academy property on Academy Drive south of Norfolk were preserved. The developer removed them and when the neighbours protested, they were replaced with a newly constructed replica. The subdivision has no parkland, not even a parkette or playground, as it was built adjacent to the existing Central Park.

  5. Kevin on April 28, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    @MWANNICK. You can see the replacement ‘gates’ on either side of the road in this Google Street View image. This view is looking north from within the former St. Mary’s property:

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/Academy+Dr/@42.262925,-83.018427,3a,75y,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sXnDfRrQd9yJQzChk1eWR3Q!2e0!4m2!3m1!1s0x883b2c2460d2b093:0xd79995bc7146b1b

  6. Uzzy on April 29, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Kevin, Houses on the property started going up even before demolition. There’s pictures of the houses inside the gates while the building was still standing, prepped foe demolition.

  7. Scotty Hughes on April 30, 2014 at 12:52 am

    I lived about 2 minutes from this Grotto, it was a creepy place to visit. Not sure we were supposed to be in there, but we would sneak in to look around at what we thought was a weird castle structure. I remember there being stairs inside the grotto that lead up to that small opening below the statue. Many candles were always lit and glowed inside tiny deep red and deep blue glass containers… If the nuns chased us away, we’d just be back another day to explore this and the grounds of the Academy. Their apple orchard was nearby and was a place where we learned to climb trees as young kids (and we’d be rewarded by a fresh apple if we climbed high enough).

    Good memories of a South Windsor landmark.

  8. Douglas Skoyles on April 30, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    I too remember the Grotto. My Mother took me there when I was very young and, although a protestant, I fell in love with the place. It had such a holy resonance that I would ride my bicycle out there just to say a prayer at (or in) the Grotto. When I heard that St Mary’s had been demolished and the Grotto was gone, it touched my heart even ‘way out here in the West. It is one of the lost, beautiful treasures of Windsor.

  9. Merle Thompson on May 1, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Having been a student at SMA from the 30s to the 50s, I spent many a recreation period sitting by the grotto. I have several pics in my albums of sodality groupings, where we were lead to pray in May, the month dedicated to Mary.

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