Immaculate Heart High School was founded in 1906 by the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a Catholic religious order of women who trace their origin to Olot, Spain.
In 1903, Thomas J. Conaty was appointed Bishop. Under his auspices, the sisters purchased a fifteen-acre plot of land in the Hollywood Hills near what is now Western and Franklin Avenues. The place at that time was outside the city limits, flanked by olive and orange trees and approached only by a wagon road.
On April 24, 1905, the ground-breaking took place for a grayish-white edifice, of Moorish, mission architecture. This convent building included classrooms for high school and elementary students, boarding facilities for girls, offices and living quarters for the sisters.
In June 1906, six young women became the first graduates of Immaculate Heart High School. The total enrollment for the school at that time was listed at 75 students.
Immaculate Heart soon established its reputation as an excellent college preparatory school for girls. By far the majority of its more than 11,000 graduates continued their education at colleges and universities across the country. They have served with distinction as artists, musicians, educators, journalists, doctors, lawyers, judges, and stars of stage and screen, to name but a few of the many professions and careers they have entered. Some Immaculate Heart women were pioneers in professions not accustomed to having women.
Immaculate Heart principals were great women of vision who are remembered with affection and love. Names that trigger most memories are those of Sister Nepomucen, Sister Eulalia, Mother Eucharia, Kathleen Lucitt, Ruth Anne Murray & Virginia Hurst.
In 1948, the auditorium building was added to the high school. In 1973, the original convent building was condemned by the city and was torn down. It was replaced by a classroom/library building. The Jo Anne Cotsen Building (formerly the Immaculate Heart College Student Union Building) was purchased from the American Film Institute in 1983. The original swimming pool was replaced by a competition-sized pool in 1985; and a small chapel, La Capilla de Maria, was dedicated on December 8, 1987.
A science/computer building and a student/faculty center opened in the fall of 1990, and in 1992, a playing field was completed. In the summer of 1998, major renovation on the auditorium building was begun. The Visual Arts Department was remodeled to create two large classrooms for the studio arts and a computer graphics laboratory. In the summer of 2005, the old shower/dressing room facility adjacent to the swimming pool was replaced by a two-story structure containing a weight room, showers, and lockers as well as office, meeting and storage space for the high school and middle school athletics programs.
A middle school for seventh and eighth grade girls was added in September 1975. Beginning in 1995, sixth grade students were also admitted. The middle school provides an excellent academic preparation for students who wish to continue their education in the college-preparatory high school.
Immaculate Heart High School now draws its students from 65 parishes. Some students come from as far away as San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Immaculate Heart also takes pride in the fact that many of the students are daughters and granddaughters of alumnae.
Changes, certainly. Immaculate Heart will always face squarely the changing needs of its young women. It has to be sensitive to their moral and intellectual development as well as to the acquisition of ideas and ideals that women—particularly contemporary women—must enjoy. But in its spirit and style, Immaculate Heart has always been characterized by a fortunate mixture of the traditional and the innovative; of discipline and freedom; of play and work; of concern for the things of the heart as well as the mind; of a readiness to create and to celebrate. It defines its task as simple, but acknowledges the complexities involved in helping young women to think clearly, to choose wisely and to achieve self-respect.