Brother Athanasius Faugier, one of the original missionaries to America in 1847, took charge of the Brothers’ community in Shieldsboro (later became Bay St. Louis), MS in December of 1855. In October of 1858, he purchased the original property and building for just under $8,000. Brother Faugier, at the age of 33, became the first president of St. Stanislaus Academy.
At the beginning of the school session in January 1856, the Brothers and students occupied the new school. The first floor consisted of three classrooms and a parlor, the second a dormitory and infirmary. The reputation of the school soon spread in the local community and boarders from the sugar plantations in Louisiana flocked to the Brothers’ school. Brother Faugier constructed another two and a half-story frame building in 1859 to the west of the first one. It contained two dining rooms, a community room, a chapel, and a dormitory as living quarters for the Brothers-again in the attic. The building served for a century until the late 1950s when it was replaced by Centennial Hall (now the Brother’s residence) on that same location.
Brother Athanasius Faugier
First President of Saint Stanislaus Academy, 1856 to 1861
Civil War Challenges
With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, St. Stanislaus suffered its first major setback. Because the Brothers were consecrated religious men, they were exempt from military service. But travel for students was difficult. Those from Louisiana could not get to school in Mississippi and the number of boarders dropped dramatically. The school struggled during the war years, but once the war ended, students returned to St. Stanislaus. In 1866, 14 Brothers taught the 98 boarders and 75 day students.
Yellow Fever Bankrupts the School
As a building expansion was in full swing in 1867, a yellow fever epidemic took its toll on the school. The school lost three staff members to the disease and the number of boarding students dropped dramatically from more than 100 to less than 50. The school finished the year in bankruptcy.
St. Stanislaus welcomed the new train service planned from New Orleans to Mobile. The Brothers knew the railroad service with a stop in Bay St. Louis would help enrollment and the local economy. In April of 1868, St. Stanislaus’s officials agreed to grant the railroad a strip of land 200 by 225 feet for cutting through their property. Relations became rocky when the railroad wanted more land for a depot. The court ordered St. Stanislaus to forfeit a parcel of land 650 feet wide by 210 feet long for the depot. The railroad obtains three acres of college property for $12.42 per acre.
Free Day School
At the urging of Father Henry LeDuc, pastor of our Lady of the Gulf, the Brothers opened a new one-story building in 1869 to accommodate 60 grade school boys of the local area that could not afford tuition at the main school on Front Street. Located back beyond the main school’s playground on Bookter St, the school was often called the Back School. The Brothers at St. Stanislaus taught at this school until 1966.