A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Our Rich History: Covington Latin School’s first home was a Methodist Church, demolished in 1940

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By David E. Schroeder
Special to NKyTribune

Covington Latin School was established in September 1923 by Bishop Francis Howard.

When Bishop Howard arrived in Covington, he discovered the need to establish high schools for boys. The only high school program for young men was a two-year commercial course called St. Joseph, operated by the Brothers of Mary on 12th street in Covington (this school transitioned into Covington Catholic High School in 1925).

From its inception, Covington Latin School offered a classical curriculum modeled on the German Gymnasium educational system. Male students were accepted after completing the sixth grade and passing an entrance exam. Students entered Covington Latin as freshmen, skipping both the seventh and eighth grades.

The school’s first home was located in the old Michael T. Shine residence near the Cathedral School on Madison Avenue. Priests of the Diocese of Covington and one Sister of Charity of Nazareth composed the early faculty. Father John Kroger was assigned by the bishop to be the first principal, or headmaster.

In 1925, Father Kroger temporarily moved the school to the Mother of God Elementary School on West Sixth Street. The school remained at Mother of God until November 1926.

Fifty years earlier, the Methodist Episcopal Church South established a Sunday school to serve Covington’s growing eastside neighborhood in 1872. A new congregation was organized around the Sunday school in 1874, which eventually took the name 11th Street Methodist Episcopal Church South. The congregation built a permanent brick two-story building on the south side of 11th Street between Scott and Madison in 1880.

This 1880 building would become a key element in the expansion and growth of Covington Latin School.

In 1911, the 11th Street Methodist Episcopal Church moved to a new building on Scott Street and their original building was purchased by the local Knights of Columbus.

Bishop Howard approached the Knights in 1926 and asked them to turn over the old Methodist Church to the Diocese for use as a new home for the growing Covington Latin School. The Knights agreed and the Latin School moved from Mother of God to 11th Street. The building was dedicated as Covington Latin School on March 30, 1926. The location on 11th Street was ideal. The property was adjacent to the Cathedral and to Bishop Howard’s residence. The Bishop frequently visited the school and made various “suggestions” to the clergy for improvements.

Latin School remained in the old 11th Street Methodist Church building for 15 years. This structure worked well as a school. The sanctuary was used as an auditorium, lunch room and study hall and the old Sunday school rooms and offices became classrooms. Bishop Howard saw this structure as temporary in nature. He and the faculty began quietly raising funds for a new building. These efforts were slowed by the Great Depression.

In November 1940, the old building that had served as the 11th Street Methodist Episcopal Church, Knights of Columbus and Covington Latin School was demolished to make way for a new school. The new brick Gothic style Latin School was officially dedicated by Bishop Howard on December 7, 1941. The building included a library, headmaster’s office, several diocesan offices, study hall, chapel, recreation rooms, dining room, kitchen and numerous classrooms. Over the main door was carved the institution’s motto in Latin, “Teach me goodness and knowledge and discipline.”

Covington Latin School continues to operate in this building, which has undergone several renovations and a major addition.

David E. Schroeder is Director of the Kenton County Public Library, the author of Life Along the Ohio: A Sesquicentennial History of Ludlow, Kentucky (2014), and coeditor of Gateway City: Covington, Kentucky, 1815-2015 (2015).

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