|City/Town: • Oklahoma City|
|Location Class: • School • Church|
|Year Built: • 1933 | Year Abandoned: • 2012|
|Status: • Under Renovation|
|Photojournalist: • Cody Cooper • David Linde • Johnny Fletcher • Jennifer Burton • Leslie Flaming • Michael Schwarz|
Villa Teresa school was founded in 1933 by the Carmelite Sisters of St. Therese in a home next to their convent in Oklahoma City. The campus consisted then of the convent and the school in two homes. Overtime the school grew. They built a large two story school and acquired a home next that as well. At its’ peak, Villa Teresa also had a second location in Moore Oklahoma as well. Villa Teresa of Moore
The school was inclusive of all nationalities and was proud of that fact. Describing itself as a small United Nations. Having spoken to former staff and students, school at Villa Teresa was pretty fun. They were known for their performances in parades, their plays, music, swimming lessons and even changing local laws. Former Principal, Sister Veronica Higgins and her students were influential in changing laws regarding the number of dogs at a property and their proximity to schools.
Villa Teresa had many wonderful years as a school. The only school in the downtown Oklahoma City area for decades in fact. However, financially the campus began to strain the sisters. The buildings, all built around the 1920’s were beginning to age and their upkeep became too much of a burden for them to continue. Combined with very few women joining the order, the decision was made to sell the campus and to close the school in 2012.
“We were one big family.” Sister Veronica said in tears. “It’s too hard to drive by…” Sister Veronica is currently a case manager at the Center of Family Love in Okarche, Oklahoma and is just as enthusiastic about spreading love and joy to all she can. “Even though it’s closed, we’ve all gone out and made that same spirit elsewhere. We did good.”
Currently, the property is being redeveloped by a group, lead by local preservationist Marva Ellard. They plan to turn the convent into a boutique hotel, with the remaining buildings being condos. Their first phase is constructing new town homes at the rear of the property designed by Brian Fitzsimmons. As quoted in the Oklahoman, Ellard said that “she would love to see families with children in the homes”. I think the Carmelite Sisters would too.
AbandonedOK would like to thank Marva Ellard and her group for access the the property.