Villa Cabrini Academy, Burbank

Joan Feeney, <a href=

malady a 15-year-old sophomore at Villa Cabrini Academy with Rev. Mother Eulalia M.S.C. Superior, November 4,1960. Photo by Gordon Dean. Order #00108838″ width=”800″ height=”638″ /> Joan Feeney, a 15-year-old sophomore at Villa Cabrini Academy with Rev. Mother Eulalia M.S.C. Superior, November 4,1960. Photo by Gordon Dean. Order #00108838

The Villa Cabrini Academy was a private, Catholic school for girls nestled in the Verdugo foothills in Burbank at 7500 Glenoaks Boulevard. The school was founded by Mother Francis Xavier Cabrini, who was the first naturalized US citizen to be canonized by the Catholic Church. Throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Mother Cabrini established hospitals, orphanages and schools in both her native Italy and in many American cities, including the Regina Coeli Orphanage in downtown Los Angeles. In 1907, she and the Sisters of the Sacred Heart Order built a preventorium on the Burbank property for children with tuberculosis. After Mother Cabrini’s death in 1917, the Sisters continued to develop the site, creating a boarding school and a summer retreat for orphans during the depression era. The Academy was built in 1944, which expanded into an elementary and secondary school with 22 buildings on a 30- acre campus.

Partial view of the Villa Cabrini Academy, June 6, 1947. Order #00108835

Partial view of the Villa Cabrini Academy, June 6, 1947. Order #00108835

Below are recently digitized images of Villa Cabrini school life in the 1950s and 60s.

The Villa Cabrini Academy closed in 1970 due to lack of religious personnel to maintain the school. After the closure, California Institute of the Arts rented the facilities as an interim campus before moving to Valencia. The following year, half of the school’s buildings were demolished after they were damaged in the San Fernando earthquake. The school site alternated between vacancy and neglect, and occupation by a series of tenants, including the City of Health, the Chiropractic Associated Practices Foundation, and the Lutheran High School of Los Angeles. The former academy is now home to Woodbury University, which purchased the property in 1987. Two of the original structures from Villa Cabrini remain. The main chapel was converted to Woodbury’s library. A smaller chapel built by Mother Cabrini in 1917 that became pilgrimage site for members of the Italian American community, was moved to St Francis Xavier Church located at 3801 Scott Avenue in Burbank.


Closeup of the small chapel built in 1917 at direction of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, then Mother Cabrini, January 31, 1955. Order #00108832


Photograph caption dated December 5, 1958 reads, “Picture taken during fierce 1955 fire in Burbank foothills shows how close brush blaze came to tiny Burbank chapel.” Order #00108833


December 5, 1960 reads, "More than 5,000 faithful climb hill in Burbank in annual pilgrimage to shrine of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini at Villa Cabrini Academy, 7500 Glenoaks Blvd., Burbank. Shrine was built at spot where St. Cabrini meditated prior to her death in 1917. She was canonized in 1946. Pilgrimage was sponsored by the Italian Catholic Federation." Jon Woods Order #00108834

Photo by Jon Woods, December 5, 1960 caption reads, “More than 5,000 faithful climb hill in Burbank in annual pilgrimage to shrine of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini at Villa Cabrini Academy, 7500 Glenoaks Blvd., Burbank. Shrine was built at spot where St. Cabrini meditated prior to her death in 1917. She was canonized in 1946. Pilgrimage was sponsored by the Italian Catholic Federation.” Order #00108834


95 thoughts on “Villa Cabrini Academy, Burbank

  1. Susie

    I went to the Villa from 1st grade graduating in 1964. I have fond memories of the school, nuns, teachers and classmates. I was very fortunate to have such a good education and sorry it is not here today to teach our young children the moral values that were instilled in us at that time. This country so desperately needs God back in our lives and country. God bless the school, nuns and everyone involved!

    1. nancy marzo

      Hi, Susie, glad to meet you here! I am Nancy Marzo and I graduated from the Villa in 1949. I was a boarder for 7 years. Have you seen our Villa website, above? we also have a presence on Facebook, Villa Cabrini Burbank.
      Many former students have reconnected with friends from our website and our Facebook presence.

      There is a section on the website, Memories, that might interest you.

      Hope to be seeing you

      1. Jackie Lane Asprer

        Greeting Nancy, my name is Jackie Lane Asprer. My mother was an orphan and was able to stay at the school. She was about 15 years old around 1946. I wonder if you remember her. Her name was Celia, Cecilia Alvarez. Her real name was Maria but the nuns called her Celia. She had dark hair, light skinned and a lazy eye. Any information would be wonderful.

    2. Linda

      Hi Nancy or Anyone From Class of 1964,

      Did you know Anselma & Antoinete (Tony) Dell’Olio? I’m asking because I was adopted and know very little about my birth parents. I have learned their family is on my DNA Chart, with

      I’ve learned these sisters went to a boarding school in Burbank and they were raised Catholic. I’m wondering if they went to Villa Cabrini?

      On my birth records it says my biological mother stayed with the Sutton family while carrying me. I’m wondering if this family’s children also went to school with you.

      I was born the summer of 1964. Any information you can share would truly be appreciated.


      1. Tracy Woodward

        Did anyone ever contact you and provide answers or information? My mother was at the academy for many years, she is 87 and has a good recall. I was born in November of 60 and my mother’s second child so your family members may have been younger, but I’ll bet she knows something! Please reach out to me

    3. Charmaine

      Agreed! I went to Villa Cabrini from approximately 1961 to 1968. SO lucky to have received such a tremendous education PLUS a solid foundation in God.

      1. charmaine

        Oops, forgot! I had Mother John for first grade! She was a short stocky gal who ran her class like a military school but she was so loving, too! My Sicilian dad absolutely ADORED her!

  2. Patricia Higgins Keyes

    Wonderful to reflect on the period of profound inspiration and dedication within our beloved Villa experience!

  3. Janis Miron Kraig

    After finishing eight grade at a public school my best friend, Georgia Emslie, talked me onto going to VCA. That was the best move I made. Loved the school and Nuns. I feel blessed that I went to such a great school.

    Janis Miron Kraig

  4. Janis@Heart-Filled Moments

    I attended Villa Cabrini from 1952 to 1955 and am so grateful for the spiritual foundation that was ignited here. The nuns were like part of our family going on weekend day-trips with us. This was such a warm and tender environment for me in those young kindergarten through second grade years. I remember making a pilgrimage up to the chapel one day with classmates. I also recall standing with my family on Glenoaks Blvd. during that fire that threatened the chapel on the hill. The fire ringed the chapel but it never burned. Many considered it a miracle.
    It would be wonderful if our children and grandchildren were able to receive the same inspiration, caring, and spiritual experience as we did.

  5. Jane Smallin

    I’m confused, are you parish owened or a township? I see that you were incorporated but the residents there still cannot be served by the Burbank post office, but must maintain a po box for their mail.
    are the fire and police from Burbank able to include you, when you need them?

  6. Lynn (LeRoy) Adams

    I went to Villa Cabrini from 1953 to 1956. Mother Giovanina , Sister Patricia, and Mother Francis were my teachers. I used to walk to school with Joan Feeney and her two sisters, Carol and Mary Anne. I was there in 1955 when that fire came down the hill and we thought we were all going to have to evacuate. It was very scary. I remember when it used to rain, we sometimes couldn’t get to the school from our neighborhood because Glen Oaks Blvd. would flood. I boarded at the dorms for a couple of months after my grandfather died and my mom moved to be with my grandmother. She didn’t want to pull me out so close to semester end. When she came to pick me up, I didn’t want to leave; I wanted to stay at Villa Cabrini.

    1. Stella

      I was at Villa Cabrini when you were. 1953. I boarded.
      My name is Stella my maiden name was Ponca. I had a friend, another boarder , named Carole Mathews. And there was a girl from Swenen named Sabina. Mother Bonafice looked over our dorm.

  7. Barbara Neel

    I attended Villa Cabrini in third grade, the 1947/48 school year. I don’t remember the names of friends, but I never forgot how to tie the uniform tie, or marching to the sound of Suza marches every morning, thinking “Be kind to your web footed friends!” I felt a peace being among the eucalyptus trees at recess. And, on the playground, looking at the back of the brick dorms with rugs hanging on the rails of fire escapes, wondering what it was like to live there. But my fondest memory was attending while teenage girls took their final vows after they had their hair cut off, wearing a wedding dress, given a wedding ring, and becoming a widow at once, while we students sang at the ceremony.

  8. Karen Stidger

    I boarded at Villa Cabrini in the 3rd grade (1955) and again for part of the 5th grade. Mother Edith was in charge of my dorm. We all had housekeeping jobs and I was assigned latrine duty. She gave me a bucket and an old tuna can to scoop out the water so I could wash the bowl. Linda Lyons was my best friend. Mother Edith took us all on a hike up the tiny chapel on the hill. Later that year, there was a raging fire. Mother Edith woke us in the night and calmly guided us out front to a waiting school bus. The sky was glowing red as we left for another Catholic school where army cots were all set up in the auditorium. We prayed that God would save the little chapel and then we went to sleep. Not a care in the world with Mother Edith watching over her brood.

  9. Pamela Kirksey (formerly Storey)

    I went to VCA in 1st grade with Mother John, and then again in grades 7-12, graduating in 1969. My sister, Mary Adele Storey attended with me, but was 2 years ahead of me, may she R.I.P. Mother Mercedes was the Principal, and Judy Brown the P.E. teacher, as well as taught the sciences. I was a cheerleader, and introduced the Spirit Stick to the student body after attending cheerleading camp. I was quite a rebel, but will never forget my almanac mater, the teachers, nuns, and all my friends!

    1. Melanie

      I had Mother John for first grade in 1960. I was a boarder and I remember her as a little stern but also kind. She spanked me in front of the class when I wet my pants but I also remember her technique for learning vowels. She had a little record player and played the story of a little girl who copied everything her mother said. One day she heard her mom say, “A e, I o u some sugar.” So cute.

      1. Lupe DeCaesar

        Hi Melanie….My name is Lupe and I’m born in 1958 and boarded there for 2nd and 3rd grade. That would have been 1965 til 1967. We may have been there the same time. I remember the Nun you’re referring to: Sister Madeline. I believe it was an Italian order of nuns who were there. I recall my First Holy Communion there with Bishop Mahoney, masses each morning in Latin, a strict order of wearing a white uniform on First Friday’s – 3rd grade was Sister Connie, who was very kind…I went home each weekend. Do you remember any of this?

      2. Shelley Hurle

        I had mother Madeline. I was a border. I blocked most of it out. Remember they told you to bring two bags for dirty clothes? One time I got sick I believe I was in first grade I literally had to change my bed before everyone woke up so I wouldn’t get beaten. That’s enough for story time for me tonight.

        1. Melody Mann

          I know what you mean abt having to change sheets before everyone woke up. Etc. I got a cold because the house nun wouldn’t close the window behind my bed, every time I started coughing she would come out and in broken English (Italian) say angry words while she whooped on me. I have blocked so much out as well. But remember she had chin whiskers and there were other punishments too. I was left for many weekends and the nuns were always looking after me there were wonderful times that I cherish along with the not so good times.

    2. charmaine

      I think we were at VCA the same time! I had Mother John for first grade around 1961 or so. I remember Mary Meissner, Marcia Flesh and the priest there who was always so kind (forget his name!)

  10. Felicita

    I use to be in mother Cabrini offanige when I was like six it was me and my sister margarita it was hard for me to deal with the situation and didn’t know why was me and my sister put in the place by my ant fracisca Lopez I always ask but never got none my name is felicita quintero I remember the place but as years went by the place change a lot it was told to me that mother Cabrini close down..there was a fire there and they had to built that place and now its close..

    1. Yvonne Romero

      Did they find you at a gas station the next day? I heard about a girl who “ran away” then was found the next morning.

      1. Shelley Hurle

        Once I had to stay there for Easter because mother Madeline said there would be others of course she lied I was there alone made to work and do all the duties of a grown adult it was horrible and my mother paid for it unbelievably traumatic for me I have not gotten over it I’m going to be 62 in June.

        1. Caroline

          Hi dear, Just remember this . They are all dead. Do not give power to dead people. I too had trauma there. It took years and a shrink to get over it. You can do it.

      2. Caroline Hoelzle

        No, they found me at the locked gates. I had to scrape wax off the hallway floors in a dress with a butter knife. It traumatized me for years

  11. Tecla Jung Legge

    I love finding these memories. Villa Cabrini and the nuns and students filled a huge one-year void in our life around 1955. My sister Barbara and I came as boarders, she in 1st grade, and I in 3rd. Our Mom had TB and was recovering at Maryknoll Sanitorium in Monrovia. Like Karen, I will never forget the wild housekeeping chores assigned by Mother Edita: BonAmi to clean the bathroom mirrors, stringing dirty socks for the massive washers, and I especially remember using the giant rotating floor polisher that turned into a run-amok monster if you ran over the cord! The kind nuns took us to visit our Mom. Afterwards they made us hot milk which we both hated due to the skin, but knew it was a kindness. Mother Frances was a wonderful 3rd grade teacher. And we had so many adventures, including that wild fire that had us all sent to Hill Street Orphanage to share beds with those smart-tough orphan girls – how many of us found ourselves shoved off the bed and onto the floor the next morning! These were perfect adventures for a 9- year old, and are wonderful memories for a 70-year old!

    1. Lupe DeCaesar

      Hello! Also went there for 2-3 grade (1965-67), because my mother had TB. My mother was at Olive View Hospital in Simi Valley. Small world..!

    2. Melody Mann

      Hi, I was there a few years after you but can never forget that floor polisher. I was a short tiny girl and one day the house nun thought I should run that thing, it went crazy spun me around and bounced off the wall. Of course there was a punishment for that. I remember some of the names you mentioned. I loved the nice ones and just dealt with the not so nice ones/one… I still have weird emotions when I see pastel melmac dishes.

  12. Rosemary

    I had a horrible time at Villa Cabrini. I think I was abused. I was so unhappy and scared and became sick and wouldn’t get better so my mother finally took me out of there. I do not have fond memories – very dark memories.

    1. Dorothea

      I too had a nightmare experience at Villa capriani. My mom sent me there because she heard the education was excellent from our next door neighbor. I was not Catholic and did not understand any of the rituals that were performed on a daily basis. My first day there I was forced to recite the rosary of which I had no knowledge. Because I could not do so I was forced to stand on my tippy-toes with my nose in a circle at the Blackboard for what seemed hours. My thumb was injured one time when I was sitting on a step and another girl and her saddle shoes crushed it I was sent to the Infirmary and the sister there inform me that I had to wait for treatment to understand the pain of humility. It cost me to never enter a church again in my adult life with any sense of comfort and it ended my desire to know anything about Catholicism. My mother was kind enough to take me out of the school quickly. And I was relieved to learn that it was shut down.

    2. Cheryl Wilson

      I have same experience e, I boarded in 1949 for a year, they forced me to eat oatmeal that made me throw up, I was 7. The only name I recall is Sister Vincent, she was awful, anyone remember her?

      1. Cheryl Caldwell Hagerty

        In looking over this site and the pictures, I remember the chapel, the pool and the peacocks. It was a beautiful campus. These stories remind me of the uniforms and Oxford shoes. I was only there a year, I was not catholic but I am now. I remember the picture of main building maybe church with all the steps. One day several years ago we were having lunch at Bon’s Big Boy. I didn’t realize we were in the area of Villa Cabrini and I looked out the window straight into the gates that said VC, lots of memories. Sure learned how to make a bed. My cousin Patsy Miller went too, anyone remember her?

    3. Shelley Hurle

      I understand I have the same memories very dark memories. I never could forget many unforgettable situations.
      Never think they were good people. This place was a hell hole anyone that survived is probably very strong today not because of their great schooling we ran the place we were slaves there you survived that was it and my mother and father paid for it, fools. God had nothing to do with this place.

      1. charmaine

        That wasn’t my experience at all. Guess everyone’s situation is different. The only bad memory is having to eat sweet potatoes at lunch (GAG ME)!

  13. I. Martin,cindy

    I loved vca I remember going to the little chapel on the hill. So many good memories and the sisters were so good to me.I went there 1958 to 1964. When I left the school was very hard cause I lost my mother in a horrible fire .after I left I missed the sisters so much like mother John,mother Theresa, mother Bernadette.

    1. Melanie

      I remember hikes to the little chapel and the holy feeling. I remember picking what we called time twisters along the way. I used them as sort of a meditation and thought about one saint or another until the little plant stopped twisting in my palm.

    2. Melody Mann

      Hi, I was there somewhere around 1959 I don’t know if we were in the same boarding room because I don’t remember the night nuns name right now but do remember it being Italian and she barely spoke English. The school nuns were very nice and memorable. Although I didn’t care much for my English teacher nun whacking me across the knuckles with a metal ruler to make me write with my right hand, I did like her a lot. I can’t remember the nuns name who taught French but she was so nice when I got stuck staying on weekends. I don’t know if anyone really noticed but I didn’t have my saddle shoes for my whole first semester, I wore black ankle booties they were called Beatles boots but were more like tall at the ankle shoes with a short zipper on the side. They were my mothers she had tiny feet, I loved it when she passed them on to me and always wanted to wear them. The main time they were noticed were at assembly in the courtyard, every one in rows of saddle shoes then me the odd one. Good and bad memories but I wouldn’t want to change much from those years, I look back fondly..

  14. Michelle

    I attended the boarding school from 1/2 of third through the 5th grade from 1/60-6/62. A fellow student was the granddaughter of Edward G. Robinson. I recall with fondness my 5th Grade teacher. Otherwise, my experience was awful. I was emotionally abused and my father came to pick me up at the end of the school year and found me locked in a small closet that had pipes, dust, and a dingy light. I did not return the following year.

    1. Shelley Hurle

      I am so sorry that happened to you. Must have been horrible. I had to do many things I didn’t know I was capable of doing as a child. I always felt like I was doing it wrong they yelled at me mother Madeline was horrible to me.
      I’ll never forget once the regular students had a unforgettable treat Ronald McDonald came and the border children had to eat the barely edible pretend oatmeal hamburgers.
      that days we could have a bath we could only have three inches and the mothers would bath us. I always thought that was off especially since I explained I do it myself at my home. I tried to verbalize my discontentment with them touching my body. The bathtubs were so big and deep and impossible to get out of. I also saw the closets. I forgot about them that I do remember other things.I’m so surprised there hasn’t been a movie made.

      1. Caroline Hoelzle

        I had to go to a shrink to get well. Just remember this. They are all dead. You do not have to give dead people power

  15. Cheryl Wilson

    I went to VCA in 1949 , 2nd grade. Only memory of class was mother Vincent. I was not catholic at the time. Most vivid memory was breakfast in dining room where we were forced to eat oatmeal which I hated, one morning brought a doll to breakfast and sister threw it in corner. One day could not tolerate the oatmeal and threw up. I can’t remember dorm rooms at all. Saw lots of peacocks, swimming classes.
    Not great memories but definitely a memory . Mother Vincent was a very mean women would go down aisles in class, we had to hold hands out and she would hit with a ruler as she walked by.

    1. alberta weiler

      Wow it seems You was there in 1948, closer to my time at 1945. I do remember we would have to stand in line and if our shoes were not tied we would get slapped across the face. I do remember White metal beds. Also walking up the mountain to the chapel and the sister brought cookies. It was a lonely feeling there ,my mother wanted me to stay but my father came and got me and took me home.

  16. melody

    I was a boarder around 1961 or 62 – I was in the youngest (grade school) section – many memories, started out meeting 2 girls my age while living in manhatten beach ca, they attended school at VCA one sister was my age the sibling was older. They made it sound like so much fun and as i hadn’t many friends the younger one and i became very close- when it was time for them to go back to school after summer i just had to go too.. We got my uniform but not the black and white saddle shoes so there i was in the mornings lined up outside wearing what i call now my black beatle boots actually not a boot but did come up to the bottom of the ankle bone- white socks and uniform. really stood out in the crowd.. I remember one of my duties was sweeping in the cafeteria i was really short and the broom was way too big- i still don’t care for oatmeal and certain colors of melmack bowls send an odd feeling through me? not sure if t is a good memory or bad one..
    The nun in the living quarters was Italian had hairs growing on her chin and barely spoke english. I remember the trouble i got in when i tried to go to the bathroom after we were tucked into bed- I remember the nun grabbing my wash cloth one morning and scrubbing my face her hangnail put a long slit in my face – I think it frightened her she was nice to me for a day. i also remember that the bath day was gross as they would use the same bathwater for more than one child- I had to use the floor polisher once – that was so dangerous for me being so small that after 2 attempts and it crashing into the wall and running down the hall till it came unplugged – they put me on another duty. One time another girl ate almost all of my flavored vitamins as if they were candy – when i got upset and was telling her to stop it- i got in trouble too so we both had to stand in the hallway with our arms out all night- or? until we kept falling asleep and could finally go to our beds. I remember the window above my bed being open on a really cold week and i caught a severe cold.
    The teachers were wonderful ( except the one walking around with the metal ruler who decided that me being left handed was unacceptable ) when i got left there over the weekend sometimes all of the nuns were very nice to me and would take me up to feed the pigs and up to the chapel on the hill. I was only there for 2 terms but never forgot the ups and downs with more good memories than bad.
    The bad thing was the 2 girls I had gone to the school to be with left after i had been there for a month or two so I was friendless for a while…
    I remember learning french at that early age – the teaching nuns had some fantastic effective classes – I just remembered something- one of the girls in my dorm has gone outside the fence? not sure if she was trying to go home or ? I believe she had a bicycle when she left? anyway – something happened to her not sure if she crashed the bike and got hurt or was molested while out there i just know that there were many secrets and she never came back, if i remember correctly her name was franscesca ? anyway-
    so many more memories i could mention but that is enough for now.

    1. Melanie

      I boarded during that same time and I remember having to hold the buffer cord for Mother while she made the long halls shine like mirrors.

    2. Kate

      I was there in 1950, 1951. Also a boarder, what you have said was about the same conditions in the time I attended. Not so many nice memories.

  17. Jacquee Griffiths

    Hi Pamela my name is Jacqueline (Schmidt) Griffiths and believe I attended VAC with your sister Mary . I went there from Kindergarten til I Graduated in1967. I’m sorry your message said she has passed and I will keep her in my prayers.

  18. Jacqueline (Schmidt) Griffiths

    Hi Pamela my name is Jacqueline (Schmidt) Griffiths and believe I attended VAC with your sister Mary . I went there from Kindergarten til I Graduated in1967. I’m sorry your message said she has passed and I will keep her in my prayers.

  19. Jacqueline (Schmidt) Griffiths

    Hi, my name is Jacqueline F (Schmidt) Griffiths and I went to VAC from Kindergarten til Graduation in 1967. I’m sorry to hear some of you did not have memorable times there! I can’t say I was happy 100 % of the time but when I was corrected it was for something I wasn’t’ t supposed to be DOING!!! Especially when I was with one of my friends , Jean–boy could we get into trouble , her more than myself! I was a good follower! LOL!!! One day we decided to light ALL of the candles in the front of the Altar–no money!! Didn’t know one of my favorite Nuns (can’t remember her name be-we were young) my mom was called! Learned really fast not to get in trouble in school because it was worse when I got home !! Though my parents were fair and very loving !!! I was spanked only three times growing up- 1by mom and 2 by dad. My dad had a different tactic: he would sit us down ( my sister Joanne who was 2 yrs younger than me) and talk to us about what happened and how disappointed he was, etc,etc. For a long time until we or whoever he was talking with And dad would be crying!! Oh, how we would rather been SPANKED. it was worse seeing DAD cry! My memory these dAys drives me nuts but I remember Mother Theresa, Mother John, Mother Mercedes, Mother Frances, Mother Stanislaus-our favorite art teacher who had us teach her how to become a Civilian when she left the order! What a trip!! Through the years I have many memories and friends I miss. Have been able to meet with a couple of special ladies a few months ago at VAC group meeting at the New college that took over our school, Woodburry College. It was even better to get back with Kay (Coughlin)Hubert who was my BFF through school and getting on the better side of things after Jean! Some memories include: hiking up to Mother Cabrini’ s Chapel on the hill and saying the Rosary when we got there or on the way up. The many fires we had along the mountain range and not one touched that Chapel—to all the surprise of the FIRE DEPT–but we KNEW WHY!! The worse part of the hike was going by the pig farm!! Boy did that STINK!!! The assemblies we had EVERY MORNING TO RECITE THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE and MARCHING IN FORMATIONS then going to class. But one thing I will ALWAYS REMEMBER was senior year when they changed calling the nuns Sister instead of Mother. Our Senior class REFUSED AND NEVER DID CALL THEM SISTER. That started for everyone else but not the Seniors until the next class year. I remember the dances, fashion shows, holidays, sports and competition s with other schools in High School and the AWESOME VOLLEYBALL AND BASKETBALL TEAM S WE HAD UNDER JUDY BROWN. The love everyone showed me and my boyfriend Thom Griffiths which I will always cherish. YES I DID MARRY HIM BUT AS A MEMBER OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS (MORMONS), a decision I made with blessings from the Bishop who spoke with our Senior Class before Senior Retreat and support of friends, in and out of school. Well, I better quit for now before I bore you to death!!! Hope you all ate well and doing well.
    Pamela I remember your sister Mary!

  20. Phelan Glen

    Hi there,

    I am a documentary producer currently looking into the life of Cher.
    She attended Villa Cabrini for her Junior High years, roughly 1958-1960 and made three good friends there: Donna Payne, Rose Delurgeo and Anita Fernandez.
    Might anyone know where I could contact them, or anyone from this period of Cher’s life? Thank you in advance.

    Warmest wishes,
    Phelan Glen

    1. Loretta C. Brown

      Hello Phelan Glen
      I did not know that Cher was attending at the time I was there, but there is no junior high school in Catholic schools only 1-8 and 9-12 (grade school and high school). I graduated from Villa Cabrini Academy Class of 1961, and went on to my Freshman year (9th Grade). After high school I went to work at Peterson Publishing Company and around 1967-68, Cher appeared at their offices on Hollywood Blvd., (they moved to the Sunset Strip after that). They called me to the front office and she said “You don’t look anything like her!” She was referring to a friend she was trying to find with the same name as mine: Loretta Burch! You may want to research that name and perhaps she can help you. Also, a producer of Driven, which was a documentary t.v. show emailed me around year 2000 to find her friend. If I knew the name of that producer I would give it to you. so you could contact him. Too bad, I was not the one she was looking for!!!!!

    2. Kimberly Vincent

      Donna, Rose Marie and Anita were amongst my best friends – there was NO Cher there or in our group. Anita had a blood disorder similar to leukemia in the 7th or 8th grade. But recovered. I saw Sonny and Cher in a Hollywood night club in the ’60’s, and trust me, she didn’t go to Villa Cabrini, nor was she one of our friends. Irene Jaramillo was also a friend and Linda Clark. I visited Rose Marie in the middle 60’s when she lived in downtown LA. Cheryl Crane did stay at Villa Cabrini for a short while after the “trial”. I attended Villa Cabrini from 1951-1960. I wish I knew whatever happened to Susie Hamilton and Cherie Polhemus?

        1. Kimberly Vincent

          Hi, Susie was one of my best friends in school! I remember her sister Pat. I used to go over to her mom’s house and they had a pomegranate tree. I think it was in Van Nuys or North Hollywood. I left VCA after the 8th grade and went to Providence High. What happened to Susie? I heard that she and Cherie Polhemus got pregnant? Were these rumors? I really don’t care one way or the other. I would love to hear from Susie! My name in VCA was Karen Martino. It was changed in 1964. They called me Marty.

  21. Patti

    It is so interesting to read all the memories good and bad. Mother Mercedes was my aunt. I knew her as Aunt Mary, my mother’s older sister. We visited when I was quite young. She loved her time there. She found her real calling though in upstate New York working with disadvantaged youth sent from NYC.

  22. Carla Hendricks Westwood

    I can only say that the happiest days of my life were spent at Villa Cabrini Academy. The nuns were loving and were great teachers. I kept in touch with a couple of them for years after I graduated. I have a had time even picturing the negative things I have read from other students. I was ntt a Catholic at the time but never felt resented or kept ou tof things. thanks for finding this article. It makes me a little teary…

    1. Nancy

      Carla I think that we were in the in the same class. My maiden name was Danyluk. Villa Cabrini was a welcomed safe haven for me after years of beatings and abuse from my violent father. I was not catholic when I boarded at the school but later as an adult I converted to Catholicism. I was happy to be there and I’ve had an amazing life.

  23. Yvette Benton

    I am trying to find out who or where the original documents are housed from the orphanage from 1923- 1942? Are the house by the City of Los Angeles, Burbank or the Catholic Church? If anyone might know, I am trying to find records of my grandmother living there.

  24. Albert E. Aubin

    Also curious about those years. My wife and her sisters were there during the same period. I was told that there was an alumni group but don’t have their contact information. If anyone knows who to contaCt or where the documents from the 1940s, please email me,

  25. Linda Donlay

    I attended Villa Cabrini in 1955, I was a boarder, after classes I could visit the school snack shack for my abbazabba. The highlight of my day . Mornings were unbearable as we marched to the cafeteria for breakfast. Always one girl or two would run to get out the door after eating the cornbread to vomit, which we had all to often. I related rulers to weapons and stern looks to nuns. As the fire burned we were put on a bus for transport to a near by facility. I believe I was confused as to why the nuns put their hand to the projector when the couple in the movie kissed . Heidi was played on Friday night.

  26. Mary Amato

    I attended from kindergarten in 1951 until graduation in 1963. I loved every minute of every day. I regret not having my yearbook. I would love to reconnect with my classmates if anyone reads this post.

    1. Barbara Ely Abbott

      I attended kindergarten at VCA in 1952. Mary, do you remember the kindergarten teacher’s name? I’m writing a story about those days. 1st and 2nd was Mother Jovanina, and 3rd was Mother Francis. I lived on the corner right next to the entrance of the school at Glenoaks and Kenneth Rd. I have fond memories.

    2. Nancy

      Mary I think that we were in the in the same class but I left after my junior year. My maiden name was Danyluk, I was a boarder, and I wore big glasses with a pink frame. Villa Cabrini was a welcomed safe haven for me after years of beatings and abuse from my violent father. I was not catholic when I boarded at the school but later as an adult I converted to Catholicism. I was happy to be there and I’ve had an amazing life.

  27. Lupe DeCaesar

    Hello again….Lupe DeCaesar…same name…Villa Cabrini 2nd n 3rd grade ‘65-‘67. I’ve responded to a few comments already….These memories are bringing up so much….I went there because my mother had TB and was quarantined. My father worked nights and there was no family. I remember Mother Madeline, Mother Vincent, sister Connie….I remember 3 friends very clearly: Mary Alcock, Anne Wright, and Brenda Como, who was Perry Como’s niece. The nuns tried to force me to be right handed, my dad came to resolve the matter…. It was a godsend to have me there-for my parents- but I was not happy being away and going home only on weekends. Worse to not see my mom. Rollercoaster emotions, but necessary.

    1. Jeannette M

      Lupe, We must have crossed paths because I was at VCA 3rd and 4th grade 65/66 and 66/67. I remember Brenda Como too. If I recall correctly it was Brenda who swam with a dolphin for her birthday at Sea World.

      One of the more petit girls in our class appeared on the Batman TV show, she was dressed as a ballerina in a pink outfit, and said one word “mommy”. That was a HUGE event at the school.

      I was friends with Judy Barbagallo, Yvette, and Miranda. That last year we had a non-sister teacher. She was a large woman, very nice, we shared the same birthday.

  28. Gretchen Groff

    I was a boarder when Mother Bartholomew was there teaching and such a wonderful saintly person she was.
    Wish I had been a more mature person at the time instead of a dumb teenager, and should have devoted all my free time to helping with “the babies” (youngest children) where the need was great. I will always feel guilty about that.

    1. Marilyn Hassett

      My best friend was Kathy Groff, we started as freshman in the hi school. I would transfer to Immaculate Heart the following year. She would have graduated in around 1966.
      My favorite memory was the free jut box we played at lunch and danced our way to sopping wet uniforms.
      Fond memories of the beautiful grounds.
      For punishment you were sent out to feed the pigs which I found to be another high light, never a bit sad in the beautiful foothills.

  29. Peggy McMaster Obrey

    I attended VCA third. grade and graduated ,12th grade 1968. My name Peggy Frías. I only have fond and beautiful memories attending VCA. Our teachers were all fantastic teachers they were the best. Our classes were small and all of our teachers truly knew our academic knowledge. My dad worked very diligently for all four of his daughters to attend a private academy. We all loved our school. My two sons Timothy McMaster 46 yrs and Raymond McMaster 48 yrs. I am not married to their dad Robert McMaster an Engineer who worked at NASA in Pasadena. I remarried an Eye Dr. Jerry Obrey. We presently live in Arizona.

  30. Carole Dardis

    I was there in the 1940’s. During WW2. Fourth grade. Lived there and only came home on week ends. I remember wearing uniforms and having chicken pox. When I went back on Sunday we were allowed to bring a sack of snacks to have each day after school

  31. Yvette Cocca

    My grandmother attended Cabrini during her 9th grade year, I believe. She must’ve attended sometime around 1937-1938. She always pointed it out after we’d pass it on the 5 FWY. She learned some Italian that year, but not enough to retain it or speak it fully. If anyone has information about those years, I’d love to know. My grandmother passed away this week at age 96. Then, she was Josephine Torres.

    Please message me if you have any information about those years.

  32. Stella

    I have a hard time processing the negativity! I remember the butter fights in the cafeteria! We would throw the butter at each other across the tables. We all had to do chores: Mother would tell us – “this is not Mt St Mary’s!” We would ride the floor buffer down the halls! And “French” the beds. No bad experiences whatsoever! But I was there in 1953. Maybe things changed….

  33. Michele

    I got a kick out of reading all of these comments. I, Michele Lockwood, graduated high school in 1966 and my sister, Jeffreen, in 1964. She was class president. and a cheer leader.

    We also boarded for a short time in elementary school and I think it was short because we too had similar negative experiences. Sometimes I had to sit out in the hallway if I was caught talking at night in the dorm after lights out. I too vividly remember the runaway floor polisher. I can so clearer picture it. I remember the hot chocolate in the dining room and loads of white bread with butter. I got my knuckles hit on many occasions.

    The education was very good….not in worldly matters but in academic ones. I did get a solid foundation which served me to this day @ 72. Unfortunately there was a lot of gossip and total falsehoods being spread by and among the high schoolers as is common I guess but considering the religious element of the school I found it quite hypocritical and damaging not only for myself but for others who were the subject of such ugly behavior. I sure hope those teenage girls grew up to be wiser, more honest and compassionate women and were able to see that their beliefs then about others was far from the truth.

    My sister maintained a long-term relationship with Mother Stan and Sister Julie (who’s in her 90’s now and living back East). Mother Francis, our Freshman homeroom teacher was my favorite.

    Wishing you all healing for those that continue to suffer…the school wasn’t the only source of our pain so hopefully you’ve been able to forgive all of those other wounded individuals who were socially and emotionally crippled when they inflicted themselves on us.

  34. Pamela Petersen

    I attended VCA as a boarder in about 1960-61. I only went for 1 year. I remember Edward G Robinson’s granddaughter was there at the time. I mention that for timeline sake.
    I had previously attended another boarding school, which had closed down.
    I don’t remember much, but what I do remember was not pleasant. The girls were nice enough.
    The dorms were bland and unhappy. The nun (I don’t remember her name) in charge would come around after we had gone to bed and shone a flashlight around the dorm room & onto each bed.
    Once when I was sick, all the girls went off to breakfast, I was locked in the dorm. I could not get to the bathroom. Guess they were afraid I would try to run away. Schools back then were far less accountable than they have to be today. A lot of unfortunate things happen to kids away at school.
    I remember the food was awful. I remember the grounds were nice. Was there an area with pigs?
    I was glad to leave. I did not like it at all.
    I remember the Italian nuns unable to speak legible English. I remember the nun with the hairs on her chin.
    I recall there were many lessons after school, music, dance, etc.
    I was happy to hear it was closed.

  35. Teresa Taliaferro

    I dont remember the oatmeal but I remember certain days we were allowed hot chocolate and donuts after we had communion. I think it was on Sundays because I remember spilling hot chocolate on my white uniform and Sundays were the days we wore white. The rest of the week we had Navy blue uniforms with a beanie cap.

      1. Cheryl Space

        It was a private catholic boarding school but you didn’t have to be catholic to go there. I was a non-Catholic boarder from kindergarten through 2nd grade. It was horrible. I was glad to leave, but public school wasn’t much better. I cried every Sunday when my sister and I had to go back.

  36. james Schreiner

    Thank you for the opportunity!
    Looking to ‘locate an old ‘girlfriend’.
    She attended, & graduated from ‘Villa Cabrini’
    (Academy or High School),in the ‘middle/late 60’s.
    Her ‘name then’, at graduation, was,’Mary Schmidt’,
    (5’ 7-9” tall,as I remember(wore her hair short).
    ANY info. would be appreciated.(Specifically her HS Yearbook, Year! Thnk You,Respectfully James Schreiner

  37. Casey Clair

    I am so glad to have found this page. I feel relieved and vindicated. I see so many stories of cruelty that I absolutely relate to. My sister, Christine, and I boarded there in 1957 when she was in third grade and I was in the fourth. Chris and I were in different buildings and, it turns out, we had completely different experiences. Mine was pure hell. The nuns were mean, cruel, joyless people. I was scared, lonely, confused, and sad. On the other hand , my sister loved her time there and I’m happy that she was! I’m sure it was because however she was treated at Villa Cabrini , it was better than how she was treated at home. I wrote a memoir called AN ONLY CHILD AND HER SISTER, and I filled two chapters with my memories of Villa Cabrini. I began to cry there, day and night, non stop. I cried so much I got expelled! For those of you who have great memories, I’m really happy you had that. And for those of us who had it rough there, I feel your pain.

  38. Lauren (Campbell) MacGregor

    Hello to all VCA students. I remember so much from that time 1950-1961. Kindergarten to 9th grade. I have a few yearbooks and I see many stayed through graduation. Some may have called me “cookie” it was a nickname. The nuns called me everything but my name Lauren Campbell. Some said Laureen or Laura orLaurie . I remember begging my mother to eat in the boarders dining hall for lunch. So for one month on Thursdays was all I could endure. It was Liver fried so tough every Thursday!! They wouldn’t let us change days. I haven’t eaten it since. The experience in the dining room really wasn’t as pleasant as I thought it would be. My mother worked late so my sister and stayed for study hall until 4:30 every day . Then went out by the office to wait for her while the boarders headed to dinner. I think I made a lot of friends but lost contact when I left the Villa. Cheri polhemus and I were going to public high school but she did get pregnant with twins and moved away. I saw Susie Hamilton that first summer but then lost contact with all. When I look back at the class pictures I remember you all.
    Mostly good memories and a good education. I remember writing “I must not talk in line” about 500 x
    The annual Christmas plays were fun. Some new students came in along the years and some left our class. I hope you are all in good health and bless you all . I hope you remember me.

  39. Deborah Leigh

    Looking for KATRINA WALD and DEBBIE PONCE my class mates.
    contact me:
    I was Debbie Thompson back then.

    I don’t have very many fond memories other than the beatiful gardens and grounds, they were incredible. The roses were SO fragrant and I especially loved the job of helping to gather them one day for St. Mary’s special holiday. I believe it left an indelible mark and created my hunger for a beautiful garden~ roses and vegetables.

    I was very proud of the way the Cabrini estate looked with its lovely gates, church and brick buildings.
    When my bus would break down on its way to pick me up in No Hollywood, Mother Superior would twice send the limosine to pick me up!! Thats unbelievable to me today.

    My 4th or 5th grade teacher shamed me about having bangs past my eyebrows and made me kneel on her desk in front of a class of 50 girls. She tied my bangs up on top of my head like a palm tree and made me keep it there for the entire day. I was surely humiliated as she also would tell me how BOLD I was! However,I was determined at a young age not to let her break me. She tried repeatedly.
    Which only made me stronger, so I thank her for that.

    Another day the hem on my uniform was not two inches below my knees, so she tore it out.
    My mother, trying to save money, had bought me a larger uniform and had it hemmed quite a bit. I had the displeasure of wearing that ripped out hem all day and all the way home which was a long walk.

    Once I had a bloody nose alone in the restroom and Mother Tereasa with whiskers, came in (she was always so mean and I was afraid of her) she touched my nose, and it stopped bleeding.
    Today I realize I was taught to believe these people had holy healing powers, Im not sure to this day. I was a young, impressionable girl.
    There was one nun, I believe her name was Mother Immaculate, she was so loving and different from the rest. I can still see her smiling face when I was in first or second grade teaching me to read.
    She gave me such confidence and taught me to LOVE reading to this day.

    In conclusion, my mother and her sister went to Cabrini and were boarded. Her older sister was mentally broken by the nuns and had a breakdown a few years later.
    She was forced to do many chores, fetching water and including picking olives in the groves from early morning to evening on weekends while my mom was too young to help.
    Being 3 years older she felt it her duty to protect my mother to her peril.
    Of course, there was no talking back to the nuns or discussions.

    I always wondered why my mom would send me to the same academy.
    But my friends, I believe I understand that there was a special education given there… about life that you would never see elsewhere to make most of us stronger, and a higher quality of learning.

    Oh and I loved the gym. smile

  40. Joanne C Alvarez Alvarez

    My name is Joanne, Joanne Castro at the time. I was in the last graduating 8th class with Sister Bernadette, before it closed in 1970. I was a day student taking the RTD, a half hour ride, to get to the school. It was worth it to me. I loved and appreciated it everyday! Especially swimming classes. My bff was Lore Bellon. I had an older brother attending college at the time and I was reading a book he had brought home called “Che” about Che Guevara, MD, Fidel Castro’s right hand man. Some noticed the cover of my book, then one stood up, her name was Theresita A., and she yelled at me for having that book. She said she was Cuban and Che and Castro were the reason her parents had to swim from Cuba to Florida. There were 2 or 3 other Cuban students in the class but they said nothing. My last name was Castro but from Native American origin. It was a great time to be alive and at VCA. Our Graduation was beautiful! We wore yellow gowns, and were given gorgeous white corsages. The next year we had a re-Union pool party at someone who’s name I forget, house. Someone had brought a gallon of wine, someone had joints, and everyone indulged. I got sick and scared and called my sister to pick me up. I was crying all the way home. What a difference a year had made! The The 1970’s began with so much going on, the Viet Nam war protests, Caesar Chavez fruit and vegetable boycotts, and now my VCA reunion ruined by my introduction to illegal pot smoking. I thought we’d be spared from that part of real life, but I was wrong. The times were a changing even for us protected Ex students of VCA.

  41. Richard Piccone

    Hi Ladies,
    I have an interesting story to tell my sister taught at Villa Cabrini Academy, and we went to visit her in 1966. We lived in Philadelphia and we traveled across country on a greyhound bus to visit my sister thie summer of 1966 and I had the great pleasure of meeting Susan Dey the actress from the Partridge family. She was a freshman at Villa Cabrini Academy. I believe she only was there a year and left and graduated somewhere in New York. Just thought I’d share that story. It was something that I will never forget.

  42. Patricia Bloomfield

    My mother stayed at the preventorium in the mid-late 1920’s, She was there for a few years. Her memories were mixed, she recalled washing the hall floors on her hands and knees and picking fruit. She did not know why she had been sent to live at the preventorium eventually she was returned to her home. She always revered Mother Cabrini, obviously they did not meet – but she held a special reverence for her. My mother recalled there had been a fire accidentally started from sparklers on one fourth of July and that some of the children had been burned. Late in her life, my mother did not like the smell of scrambled eggs – childhood memories of the Preventorium. Also she had an aversion to Cod Liver Oil – no doubt a daily health elixir of the day and her time there.

  43. Ellen Reaser-Choi

    Attended the campus when it was Los Angeles Lutheran high school formally known as Dr Walter A Maier memorial, Lutheran high school. We’re bank was a far cry from 70th street and 8th Avenue, which was close to Florence and Crenshaw in south central LA. We started classes there in 1977 with around 400 students. We rode private school buses or drove in carpools to get to school..
    All the Missouri synod Lutheran grade schools in Los Angeles, Inglewood, Hawthorne, Compton, Gardena,Torrance, Long Beach, some from the valley and even a few from orange county (most of those schools are no longer in existence) would send their children to Lutheran high school.
    The commute was too far from many, and we lost students in the transition and later years which added to the demise of our time there.
    The campus was beautiful. My dad was on the Board of Directors for Lutheran high at the time we move there. I remember working over the summer to get the school ready to open for us to attend there.
    The foundations of large building in front of the two-story school section was paved over to provide a parking lot for students and teachers.
    The seniors had an olive grove to use as their designated hangout spot.
    The gym was wonderful with locker rooms and showers. The Harlem Globetrotters used to rent the gym to practice when they would come to Los Angeles for their exhibitions,.
    The pool and pool house were intact, and were eventually used.
    The chapel was so beautiful and really appreciated when we would have services there.
    IHope Woodbury College is taking care of the wonderful art, mosaics, paintings on the walls, etc. Snuck in there after they took over, and some of the features were moved or covered up at that time.
    Find memories of the Orchard on the east side of the back corner of the property. If you forgot your lunch, you could go over there and see what fruit you could pick to eat instead of buying junk off the lunch truck.
    We use the basement of the two-story school for study halls and fundraisers that may have been where there was a cafeteria, I think. It faced looking south, towards the entrance of the school.
    There was a group of one story buildings that looked like living quarters for staff that were eventually fixed up and use for retreats and conferences.
    In the.
    Front of the school there was a home we called the parsonage, and one of the school families lived there to do maintenance and provided presence at the school when it wasn’t in session.
    After I had left the school, a large field in between the west olive orchard, and the main drive up to the two-story school house had been graded and a football field was installed then.
    Behind the school were condominiums. I guess that had been sold off and developed after Villa Cabrini closed.
    Back then we tried to purchase the school using creative financing, and there was a huge balloon payment that We had to come up with by a designated date, we just couldn’t manage the payment. We had a campaign to sell 1 foot of the high school for almost $800 to individual people to raise the money and got T-shirts as a reward That said I sold a foot on it hem. They even had sold off some of the olive orchard on the west corner on Glenoaks to come up with the money I believe. . I think that is now like a business park of some sort.
    My neighbor was Catholic and had a large book titled something like “Hundred years of the archdiocese in Los Angeles ” or something like that . I believe it came out in the later 40s after the school had been built because it was in there with picture of the full original, campus and was beautiful.
    Have pictures and a drawing from year books of the school when we attended there. Can post them if Ican figure out how to do that.
    There is a Facebook alumni page if anyone wants to search it under Dr. Walter A Maier memorial Lutheran high school, Los Angeles if you want to check. Should be public.
    Have such fond memories of my time at that campus. It was magical. You could feel the spirit of God everywhere. Consecrated ground.
    Am thankful for my time there, for the Catholics who built it and Mother Cabrini.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *