Marymount was purchased in 1919 by the Sisters of St. Dominic in Tacoma, WA. It was 100 acres with a farm house. The groundbreaking was in May of 1921. On July 2, 1922 the cornerstone was laid and it opened as a boy’s military school on May 30th, 1923.
When the school opened there were about 30 boys in attendance. The number fluctuated over the years. During World War II the number of students rose to 110. The students enjoyed a fine music program, and in addition to their choir, Marymount sponsored a band. Once a week the boys held a parade review, demonstrating the marches and drills that they had mastered that week. They also had a tradition of performing annually in the local Daffodil Parade. A full schedule kept the boys active from reveille at 6:40am each morning until their bedtime at 9:00pm. This rigorous life proved beneficial to many students who went on to become successful in a variety of careers.
Marymount was run as a school until 1975 when the unpopularity of the Vietnam War persuaded the church to cease its operation of the military school. For several years following this policy shift, the nuns operated a school that taught English as a second language to foreign-born students.
For the decade following, Marymount was basically a retirement home and convalescent center for the nuns. By the late 1980’s, a series of catastrophic maintenance problems convinced the church to sell Marymount because it couldn’t adequately care for the facility and grounds. When the nuns solicited proposals from potential buyers, Harold LeMay’s proposal was not only the lone bid that would preserve the buildings and grounds, but he promised to maintain and improve them! The decisive element of the proposal was that the nuns were promised access to Marymount as long as they wished.
Harold and Nancy LeMay became quite close to the Marymount nuns, and Nancy continues that relationship today. The nuns have come to the annual LeMay Car Show, and they have delighted in meeting and reminiscing with former students and the family members of those students.
Today, several non-profit groups share space at Marymount, including two church congregations and a senior center, in addition to the LeMay Museum. It is also one of the locations for the annual car show and auction held on the last Saturday of August.
Marymount Academy is still available for tours and is under the operation of the LeMay Family Collection Foundation. For more information, visit www.lemaymarymount.org.