Sunday, March 11, 2001

Hilton hotels, Mt. Notre Dame share common heritage

Magnate helped build school

By Gene Franzen
Enquirer Contributor

        PARK HILLS — In May 1956, during a trip to Cincinnati, hotel magnate Conrad Hilton had two scheduled stops. At the first, he signed the final papers purchasing the Netherland Plaza and Terrace Hilton hotels in downtown Cincinnati for $25 million.

        His second stop was across the river at Notre Dame Academy, where he donated $500,000 to the academy's new-school building fund. One day, the long, winding drive from Dixie Highway up to the new school would be named Hilton Drive.

[photo] Notre Dame Academy, in Park Hills.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
        Notre Dame Academy dates to 1875, when members of the Sisters of Notre Dame opened the school on Fifth Street in Covington.

        By 1956, the school had developed two major problems. With an enrollment of 400, it had become overcrowded, and the 76-year-old building needed repairs totaling $500,000 to bring it up to code. The decision was made to build a new school in Park Hills.

        Two nuns, Sister Mary Agnetis, who was school principal for 40 years, and Sister Vincentia, initiated a fund-raising campaign, writing hundreds of letters to potential benefactors. Many responded generously, including Mr. Hilton.

        Mr. Hilton was in attendance for the groundbreaking in 1960. The $1.5 million school opened in 1963 on the grounds of St. Joseph Heights provincial center.

        Today, the school features a strong college-preparatory curriculum and has an enrollment of 600.

       Now and Then, a look at historic places in Northern Kentucky, is published on Sundays in The Kentucky Enquirer. If there is a place you would like to see featured, call 578-5555.

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