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Our History

Welcome to Benilde-St. Margaret's

The rich history of Benilde-St. Margaret's School goes back more than a century playing an integral part of the history of Catholic education in Minneapolis. 

Today's BSM school is a diverse community of 7th-12th grade students from across the Twin Cities and beyond - leading active lives in the classroom, on the field, and in the community.

Let's explore the history of BSM beginning with St. Margaret's Academy and Benilde High School.

Welcome to St. Margaret's Academy - 1907

The history of Benilde-St. Margaret's begins with the founding, in 1907, of St. Margaret's Academy by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

When you visit the BSM campus, you can see the front doors from the Academy prominently on display in our mail hallway, honoring the history of our school.

St. Margaret's Academy - 1907

The campus for this all-girls school, located near the Basilica of St. Mary in downtown Minneapolis, included two mansions and a carriage house which had been built in the 1880s by two Minneapolis business magnates. 

St. Margaret's Academy

Part of the charm of St. Margaret's Academy were the ornate details throughout the buildings, including stained glass, winding staircases, a ballroom, and fireplaces in every classroom.

St. Margaret's Academy - 1907

The three buildings at the former McNair residence served as the home for St. Margaret's Academy.

St. Margaret Academy Sisters - 1922

Classes at St. Margaret's Academy were taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet who first arrived in St. Paul in November 1851 from St. Louis, MO.

Prior to establishing St. Margaret's Academy, the Sisters had previously founded other schools and academies in the Twin Cities.

St. Margaret Academy Students - 1915

St. Margaret's Academy was a popular and successful school meeting the educational needs of young girls in the Twin Cities. The Academy was open to girls in grade school and high school.

St Margaret's Academy - 1930s

The Academy consistently attracted more applicants than could possibly attend the school. The school remained at this location until 1960, when a new school was built in the Kenwood area of Minneapolis.

St. Margaret's Academy - 1960

By 1959 the old school became inadequate in size – for every 100 girls accepted, about 200 were turned away.

The Sisters of St. Joseph, who had anticipated such a problem, had purchased twenty-eight acres, and by 1960 a new school was built on Upton Avenue, near the Eloise Butler Wildflower Gardens and Wirth Park. 

St. Margaret's Academy - 1960

The modern campus provided larger facilities for more classrooms and more enrollment. St. Margaret's Academy remained popular as the suburbs of Minneapolis continued to expand.

Benilde High School

While the Sisters of St. Joseph were building their new campus and school, the Christian Brothers, under the direction of Brother Mark Sullivan, were constructing a boys' school - Benilde High School. The school, located in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park was not far from St. Margaret's Academy and would open in 1956, meeting the educational needs of local families.

Both Benilde and St. Margaret's enjoyed prosperity until, like many other schools in the 1970s, enrollment began to decline and costs began to escalate.

Benilde High School faced an even more frightening situation - the Christian Brothers, who lived on campus, would be leaving - threatening the closure of the school.

Within days, a "Save Benilde" committee was formed. Prayers were answered when the Benedictine community of St. John's Abbey, St. Cloud, MN, agreed to provide an administrator as well as faculty members for the school.

Benilde High School - 1980s

In 1974, St. Margaret's Academy decided to sell the campus to the Minneapolis Public School system, with the intent of merging with Benilde High School.

The history, traditions, and legacy of excellence at St. Margaret's became part of the shared history of Benilde-St. Margaret's High School.

That first year, one hundred ninety students graduated as the co-ed school looked to the future.

Benilde-St. Margaret's High School

The vision of BSM for educational excellence, built upon the legacy of the St. Margaret's Academy and Benilde High School, continued in the new century.

In 2000, the BSM community focused on "Enriching Our Legacy of Excellence"  with an aggressive capital campaign under the leadership of James F. Hamburge. The campaign included the creation of senior and junior high administrative office spaces, a new main entrance, and a chapel.

Benilde-St. Margaret's School - 2000s

With the additions made during the expansion campaign, students now have a state of the art performing arts center, library, and spacious classrooms in which to learn and grow.

The Raise the Red campaign furthered BSM's commitment to excellence in education under the leadership of Dr. Bob Tift who served as interim president and then formally as president.

Benilde-St. Margaret's - 2010

In 2010, Raise the Red was responsible for the new athletic complex which made its debut in Fall 2010. 

BSM Athletic Complex

The athletics fields project at BSM enhanced the facilities for student athletes in multiple sports. The stadium, with artificial turf stadium, is centrally located, with a gatehouse, restrooms, and nearby track and field facilities.

The baseball and softball fields were renovated with improved practice fields and increased parking, while preserving the environmental integrity of the nearby wetlands (improving their environmental integrity) and being good stewards of the planet.

BSM Hamburge Theatre

The fifth president of Benilde-St. Margaret's School, Kevin Gyolai, Ph.D., began his leadership of BSM in July of 2014. Dr. Gyolai was committed to maintaining BSM's tradition of academic excellence, strong sense of community, and vibrant faith traditions.

Under his leadership, BSM’s 2020 Strategic Plan was implemented before his departure in 2016.

BSM Today

In February of 2017, Adam Ehrmantraut, Ed.D, became BSM’s sixth president.

As a proven professional educator with more than twenty years of experience serving as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal, Dr Ehrmantraut began his teaching career here at Benilde St. Margaret's as a social studies and business teacher in the 1990s.

His experience and commitment to BSM has facilitated the implementation of strategic initiatives helping our faculty and staff develop each Red Knight’s fullest potential in body, spirit, and mind.

BSM Today

As the needs of students evolve and new opportunities arise, BSM continues to refine the educational experience and look of the campus. New science classrooms, an open-format educational learning center, and the Atrium provide students with places to study, collaborate, and advance at their own pace.

BSM Today

The BSM campus might look radically different from the grand staircase and fireplaces of St. Margaret's in 1907, yet the educational experience is still grounded in a faith tradition and commitment to preparing young people to thrive in today's world.


BSM in the Future

As BSM looks to the future, the mission is focused on empowering and inspiring each student on their educational journey, grounded in the Catholic school tradition.

The BSM community is united in our shared humanity by embracing our differences, recognizing that as we lead in one collective Spirit, each of us can contribute in meaningful ways to a global society. 

Join us in honoring our legacy and charting a course for the future at Benilde-St. Margaret's.