St. Joseph School is part of a rich heritage of Catholic education in Chester County.

ihmsIn February 1954, St. Joseph Parish broke ground on Downingtown’s first Catholic elementary school. The original school opened the following September on Pennsylvania Avenue. With the opening of the school came the blessing of the guidance and community presence of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to Downingtown.


The school opened with 274 students, nearly half of whom were in first and second grades. first schoolThe school, a two-story brick building, was modern in every respect and included eight classrooms, a kitchen, cafeteria, and an auditorium large enough to seat 450 people. The school taught first through eighth grades. However, for its second and third years, the school was granted permission to add a ninth and tenth grade until Bishop Shanahan, the new Catholic high school under construction, was completed.

By 1987, the parish and school had grown in families and students. The elementary school was now more than 20 years old, and not only needed repairs, but it was also too small to meet the parish’s needs. Plans were made to build the Education Center, and ground was broken in 1986. Much of the construction funding came from the estate of former St. Joseph School teacher, Karen Butterfield. Parishioners also helped fund the construction.

The Education Center opened in September 1987. By the mid-1990’s it became clear that the school did not have the space necessary for our ever growing, always busy parish community. In 1999, the parish-funded expansion created 11 additional classrooms, a gym and the Parish Meeting Center.

school-aboutToday, the school provides a Catholic education approximately 630 students in Grades Pre-K – 8.

As we look to the future, there promises to be more changes for the school. We are constantly evaluating the needs of our student population in an effort to deliver the best educational experience possible. There will be continued and ongoing upgrades in technology, reviews of the best instructional tools and programs available for our students, and further improvements to our facilities. While much has changed over the years, much has also remained the same. As we celebrate our 60th anniversary, our mission remains constant… providing a strong Catholic education rooted in faith, academics and service in Downingtown. We look forward to more changes ahead, while celebrating the traditions and accomplishments of the past that make us St. Joseph School.

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