Historical marker recognizes 100 years of St. Ann

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St. Ann Church and School unveiled a new historical marker on Friday, Aug. 27, as part of the Centennial Celebration for the parish and schoolIn this video, Pastor Father Michael Fye gives the blessing during the ceremony. Photos and video by Andy Telli.

For 100 years, St. Ann Church and School has been a landmark in the West Nashville neighborhood. Now it has the historical marker to prove it. 

As part of its celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the church and school, a historical marker has been erected in the parish’s front yard along Charlotte Avenue. Pastor Father Michael Fye blessed the marker on Friday, Aug. 27, as the students and faculty at St. Ann School and parishioners gathered around to watch. 

The marker, approved by the Historical Commission of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County, reads: “St. Ann Catholic Church and School opened here in 1921. Two Sisters of Charity first welcomed West Nashville Catholics at gatherings held above a nearby hardware store in 1917. This informal gathering became St. Peter’s Mission, thanks to the support of the Diocese of Nashville and the Church of the Assumption. In May 1921, the Diocese acquired this site, the Byrd-Douglas or Thomasson home. St. Ann School is the oldest Diocesan school still operating in the City of Nashville.” 

St. Ann Principal Anna Rumfola speaks to the students gathered on the front lawn of the church on Charlotte Avenue before the marker is unveiled.

Applying for a historical marker “was a brainchild of the entire Centennial Committee to recognize this moment in a historical way,” said Rebeca Bell, a St. Ann parishioner, parent of two St. Ann School students, and a member of the Centennial Committee. 

Bell oversaw the application process for the parish. 

The Historical Commission has “a very detailed process you have to follow,” Bell said. “You have to prove your historic relevance to the community.” 

“One of the compelling parts of the St. Ann story is how the parish grew up with the West Nashville community,” Bell said. 

The unveiling of the historical marker was a day-long celebration for the St. Ann School students. 

“Everything today was focused around this,” St. Ann Principal Anna Rumfola said after members of the school’s Eagle Ambassadors unveiled the marker. 

Earlier in the day, the students played bingo, “which was a staple here at St. Ann,” Rumfola said. Alumni of the school, Rita Burns Oakley and Deacon Marty Mulloy, spoke to the students about their time at the school, and the students were treated to Hunt Brothers Pizza and ice cream from the Sylvan Park Neighborhood Ice Cream Man.  

“We’re trying to pull in as much of the community as possible,” Rumfola said. 

Erica Nute, a teacher at St. Ann, had her students write their reflections on the unveiling of the historical marker. 

“When I walked into school on Friday, I could tell how excited all the teachers were, and I could see the pride in their faces,” wrote eighth grader Emma Ambarian. “As my classmates were unveiling the historical marker, I couldn’t help but feel grateful because when I chose to come to St. Ann School I thought it was just going to be like a regular school, but it’s so much more than that.  

“St. Ann’s is a home, a community and especially today I could see that the teachers and faculty care so much about the school and their students,” she added. “All the special guests looked so happy and grateful to be there, and they truly made it such a special day.” 

“I have only been at St. Ann school for one year, but even just in that one year, I learned that it does indeed deserve that historical marker,” wrote eighth grader Gabby Candelaria. “St. Ann School has been standing strong for 100 years now, with every student there soaring, just as St. Ann School says they will.” 

Metro Council Member Kathleen Murphy, whose father Michael Murphy graduated from St. Ann School, speaks to the students before the marker is unveiled. Murphy’s district includes St. Ann.

“Every teacher and parishioner there is incredible,” she said of her school. “The academics are great of course, but it’s not just that. It’s also the little things, like the smiles the faculty greets you with in the mornings, and the ‘hellos’ they give you when they walk past you in the hallway. St. Ann has been standing for so long because they care so much about everybody, and I consider any child who gets the privilege to attend St. Ann school extremely lucky.” 

As eighth grader Roseanne Nguyen watched her classmates remove the plastic covering the marker, she wrote, “I could hear the cheers from the students, hands clapping together, excited to see what was under. The adults too clapped, happy I could tell through their smiles. I began to smile too, as the trash bag fell down and revealed the marker everyone had been waiting to see.” 

Eighth grader Charlie Veit wrote of all who had passed through St. Ann over the last 100 years, “all of the people who devoted their lives to deliver the Word of God to the local people. All of their work had brought me to this amazing place. It was like they were somehow gathered there.” 

He was also thinking of the students still to come. “It was like they were also here, like the people from the past, waiting for their moment.” 

“It was magnificent!” wrote seventh grader Nick Oberlander. “I had never felt such a feeling and such emotion before. I think after this I truly understood what it meant to be a part of the St. Ann community, and it was wonderful! Until now, I had just gone to school and to church here, but I had never felt this feeling before. I think this feeling is the feeling that my peers have been describing to me ever since I got here, the St. Ann feeling of family and kindness.” 

More events to celebrate the Centennial are schedule this fall with the St. Ann Fall Festival on Oct. 23, and the planting of 50 trees in the neighborhood on Nov. 20. Parish volunteers planted another 50 trees earlier in the year. 

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