St. Ignatius Comes of Age: 1861–1880

In its second campus, just next door to its first Market Street school, SI became one of the leading colleges in the Bay Area thanks to three great pedagogues — Frs. Varsi, Bayma and Neri. Fr. Neri shined the first electric light in San Francisco from the window of St. Ignatius College, Fr. Bayma authored several major texts on religion and “molecular mechanics,” and Fr. Varsi studied astronomy at the University of Paris. These men produced generations of Ignatians steeped in both classical and modern education.

These early years saw the birth of several SI traditions, from the Sanctuary Society to drama, with SI students performing the first school play west of the Mississippi. It did not take long for SI to outgrow its new campus, however. This, and the sting of high property taxes levied on Market Street buildings, led to the decision to build the third campus on Hayes and Van Ness Avenues. That building campaign met opposition from the people of San Francisco, upset that SI had hired Chinese brick makers, and from Archbishop Alemany, fearful that the new church and school would be too close to the proposed cathedral. SI faced all these obstacles, and more, as it continued to grow and define itself.

Please explore further by clicking the links below: