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Boston College buys Mount Alvernia High School campus in Newton for $40.5 million

People walked toward the entrance to Mount Alvernia High School.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Boston College has bought the property that long housed Mount Alvernia High School’s campus and convent, 23 prime acres directly across the street from its Newton campus, for $40.5 million, property records show.

The sale was completed Tuesday, fewer than four months after the Catholic girls school for grades 7 through 12 closed its doors for lack of enrollment.

Mount Alvernia, founded and owned by the Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception had been at its location at 790 Centre Street since 1972. The school’s first class of eight students graduated in 1939 from another location on Manet Road.

Efforts to reach the sisters for comment on Wednesday were not successful.

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Boston College Law School is located across the street from the bucolic campus. Freshman dormitories are also located on the property.

A BC spokesman said the Franciscan nuns reached out to the Jesuit-run university about buying its campus.

The sisters “reached out to Boston College, with which they have maintained close ties for more than 85 years, with the goal of keeping the property in the hands of a Catholic educational institution,” Jack Dunn, a college spokesman, said in a statement issued Tuesday.

The college “intends to use the property for educational and administrative purposes,” according to the statement. Dunn declined to expand on the specifics when reached by email Wednesday.

The purchase includes the land and campus buildings for the all-girls Catholic high school on Centre Street. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

The announcement that the school would close came out of the blue and shocked students, parents, and alumnae who demonstrated and started a petition to save the school.

Mount Alvernia’s closure came amidst several similar announcements from Catholic high schools in Brighton, Cambridge, Newton, and Fall River who said they were closing, due largely to weak finances and enrollment declines.

Last spring, 11 aging Franciscan sisters were living in the convent next to the school, down from 25 in 2018, and enrollment at the school had been shrinking for 15 years, the nuns told the Globe.

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The Newton sisters considered their options and determined that holding on to the Centre Street site would be too costly going forward.

“The high school and Sisters are financially interdependent on the Centre Street property, which the Sisters maintain,” according to a letter from the Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. “Thus, continuing here is financially unsustainable.”

Early on, Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller had expressed an interest in possibly acquiring the property for the city. She said she reached out to the Franciscan sisters but never heard back.

On Wednesday, Fuller gave her blessings to the change of ownership.

“Mount Alvernia High School has been a wonderful neighbor to our Newton community for the past 85 years,” Fuller said in an emailed statement. “We learned from Boston College officials yesterday of their purchase of this important parcel across from the Boston College Law School campus. We look forward to hearing more about their future plans for the 23-acre property.”


Tonya Alanez can be reached at tonya.alanez@globe.com. Follow her @talanez.