The Gesu School was founded in 1895 after the combining of St. Gall and Holy Name parishes to form Gesu parish. In September 1895, the school occupied three separate buildings, one on Tenth Street near Cedar, the second on Eleventh near State, and the third at the corner of State and Eleventh. The school was under the direction of the Sisters of Notre Dame.
In 1899, the doors of Gesu Grade School opened on Thirteenth Street with an attendance of 670. The Sisters of Notre Dame voluntarily retired and were succeeded by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary who resided at Holy Angels Academy. When the school opened there were seventeen classrooms, five on the first floor, and six each on the second and third floor. Classrooms for girls were on the north side, the boys on the south. Pupils entered the school on their side of the building. Similarly, the northwest playground was for the girls, and the southwest for the boys.
In the basement of the school building were three bowling alleys, a billiard room, a dining room, kitchen and lavatories. The first floor contained the two-story high auditorium with a seating capacity of 800. The unique gymnasium occupied the entire rear of the third floor and was suspended over the school’s auditorium on steel rods. Marquette University’s basketball team once played its games there.
A partial list of Gesu graduates includes well-known names, such as, Rev. Edward J. O’Donnell, S.J., former chancellor and president of Marquette University; actor, Pat O’Brien; former Circuit Court Judge, William I. O’Neill; former Federal Judge, Robert E. Tehan; William F. O’Donnell, former Milwaukee Executive; Oliver L. O’Boyle, former Milwaukee County Corporation Counsel; Robert D. Murphy, former diplomat and high-ranking official in the U.S. State Department; Francis X. McCormack, former Clerk of Courts for Milwaukee County; Paul McCormack, former Milwaukee County Treasurer; Joseph P. Callan, former Judge of the Circuit Court of Milwaukee County; Joseph (Red) Dunn, former Marquette University and Green Bay Packer football great; Peter Murphy, former Marquette University track star. Gesu is proud that her graduates will always attribute to their school the firm foundations of character developed in them.
After sixty-nine years of continuous high-standard educational service, Gesu school held its last graduation exercises on June 7, 1968. The decision to close was made because of a growing shortage of teaching sisters and dwindling number of school age children in the congregation. The school building was subsequently razed. In 1993, a memorial stone was laid to commemorate Gesu Grade School by its Alumni Association.
The "Gesu Spirit Rock" not only marks the site of our school but serves to jog our memories of friendships and activities, ceremonies and rituals, simple joys and trials, sounds and smiles. Never to be lived again but...never to be forgotten.
555 North 13th Street