A short history of Boston College High School

BC High’s baseball team plays at Monan Park (above), which opened in 2016.
BC High’s baseball team plays at Monan Park (above), which opened in 2016.Jim Davis/Globe Staff/File

Faced with a sharp decline in applications, Boston College High School is pondering its future and perhaps leaving open the door to admitting girls to the all-boys institution.

As the school’s trustees and alumni weigh the next steps, here’s a brief look at the history of the 153-year-old school.

The Founding

The idea to create a combined Catholic college and high school grew out of the large influx of Irish immigrants in the 19th century at a time of widespread anti-Catholic sentiment. Thanks to the work of the Rev. John McElroy, Boston College and Preparatory School opened its doors at Harrison Avenue and James Street, in the South End, in 1864.


For about the first 50 years of their existence, the Jesuit-affiliated schools occupied the same buildings.

The Split

By 1913, enrollment had risen to more than 1,300 with about 1,000 students in the high school and 300 in the college. The situation was not tenable, and that year Boston College moved to Chestnut Hill, where it remains today.

Despite the split, the schools would share the same administration for 14 years. It wasn’t until 1927 that the two would legally become separate institutions with separate administrations.

The Modern Age

In 1948 the school purchased more than 70 acres on Columbia Point in Dorchester for its new campus. Doors opened in 1950 for the school’s 600 juniors and seniors. The entire student body would be moved to the new location by 1954.

In 1965, Walsh Hall Science Center was dedicated. Indoor and outdoor athletic facilities were built in 1975 and 1988 respectively. A new library opened in 1997.

In 2005, the school concluded a $51 million fund-raiser by opening McQuillan Hall, a 63,000-square-foot space that features a student common area, science center, and cafeteria.

Cadigan Hall, a 28,000-square-foot space dedicated to music and fine arts, opened in 2013 after a $12 million gift. A $2 million baseball park, which the school shares with UMass Boston, followed in 2016. BC High has a reputation as an academic and athletic powerhouse.


The affiliation between the college and high school lives on in colorful monikers for graduates: Double Eagles are alumni of both the high school and college; students who graduated from the high school, college, and BC Law are dubbed Triple Eagles.

Andrew Grant can be reached at andrew.grant@globe.com.