The Providence Academy Tour
Providence Academy, originally known as the House of Providence, is a former orphanage, school, and regional headquarters for the Sisters of Providence. The first five Sisters of Providence in the region, led by Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart (1823-1902), arrived in Vancouver in 1856 from Montreal, to serve the humanitarian and spiritual needs of the region. Construction of the building, designed by Mother Joseph, was begun in 1873, and it was first in use in 1874. Of the 29 buildings designed by Mother Joseph and built in the Pacific Northwest and Canada, the 3-story Georgian Revival Academy is one of only two remaining. The Sacred Heart Garden by the Academy’s entrance, designed by Mother Joseph in c. 1875, is the oldest known formal landscape designed by a Euro-American woman and in continuous use in the western United States. The Academy was serving as a girls’ school at the time of its closure in mid-1966. Local grassroots preservationist Robert Hidden purchased the building in 1969 and, with his family, adapted it for re-use for boutiques, offices, and events. The Academy was placed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, The Historic Trust bought the venerable building in 2015 to preserve and share with the public, and since then has invested more than $17,000,000 given by the community to purchase, maintain, and rehabilitate the remarkable architectural treasure. Currently housing offices and commercial and event spaces, the Academy remains an inspirational legacy of the lasting work of the Sisters to establish social service, medical, and education networks, and a testament to the community’s commitment to steward the building today, and pass it on to the future.
Thank you for an awesome tour. You truly bring the Academy to life and Mother Joseph is presented as a real person. We thoroughly enjoyed the tour. – Sharon H.
Walking Distance: Involves climbing stairs.
Those who are physically challenged may use a small elevator by prior request to reach most of the tour spaces.