A Brief History

In 1910, the pastor of St. Margaret of Cortona Parish, Father Murray, decided to construct a parish school. Located on W260th St., The school was called Lavelle Hall, and the building was two stories with five classrooms and a capacity of 180 students. This original building still stands with its large entry hall, library and art center on the first floor, and the huge staircase that leads to the principal and administrative offices on the second floor. Financial restraints at the time prevented the school from opening so Father Murray leased the building to the public school system. It was used as an annex to PS 7 until 1926.

When Monsignor Joseph Doyle became pastor in 1925, he wanted the building to be a parish school. The timing was right as the building for PS 81 had just been completed. Monsignor asked the Sisters of Charity to staff St. Margaret of Cortona School. Sister Regina Concepta Mulhall, principal, and five other Sisters became the first faculty. As enrollment continued to grow, it was decided in 1928 to expand. An auditorium/gymnasium was added on the ground floor with eight classrooms above and a convent on the third floor. The basement contained a large kitchen, lunchroom, and a Club Room. Affter WW II the population of Riverdale exploded with new apartment buildings and there was a need for additional space. In 1955 another eight classrooms were built (known as the “new school”) joining the “old school” on the Southwest side facing out toward Riverdale Avenue and cutting the school yard in half.

St. Margaret of Cortona School has educated thousands of New York youth for over 80 years, and many advancements in curriculum have been made. The school has been wired for the Internet, renovations and updates to the school computer/media center have taken place, establishing a school-wide technology network, Smart Boards in each of the classrooms are used every day, and iPads are used extensively by every student.

We have so much to be proud of at St. Margaret of Cortona School!