The Athenaeum of Ohio – Mount St. Mary's Seminary of the West, originally St. Francis Xavier Seminary, is the third-oldest Roman Catholic seminary in the United States and is currently located at 6616 Beechmont Avenue in the Cincinnati, Ohio neighborhood of Mt. Washington, in the former Saint Gregory Seminary buildings. It was established by Bishop Edward D. Fenwick, the first Bishop of Cincinnati, on May 18, 1829 along with The Athenaeum (later Xavier University and St. Xavier High School), which opened in 1831, in downtown Cincinnati.
On October 2, 1851 a new seminary building was dedicated by Archbishop John Baptist Purcell in Price Hill, Cincinnati and the seminary was renamed Mount St. Mary's of the West to avoid confusion with The Athenaeum, which had become St. Xavier College in 1840. The new name was selected in honor of Mount St. Mary’s of the East in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where Archbishop Purcell had been rector. In 1879, the seminary closed for eight years due to financial difficulty. When it reopened, the Archbishop decided to create a separate preparatory school, St. Gregory’s Seminary, which was opened in Mount Washington in 1890.
In 1906, Archbishop Henry K. Moeller had a grand mission to build a new cathedral, Archbishop's residence and seminary in Cincinnati. The next year, the Archbishop accepted a donation of 16 acres (6 ha) in Norwood, some eight miles north of downtown Cincinnati. Groundbreaking on the seminary did not occur until 1921, with dedication in 1923.
In 1925, Archbishop John T. McNicholas developed a unified agency to coordinate all educational work in the diocese. This new organization was incorporated under the laws of Ohio as the Athenaeum of Ohio in March, 1928. The incorporation restored the name of the early college and seminary, founded by Bishop Fenwick in 1829. The Athenaeum of Ohio was chartered to grant degrees for Mount St. Mary’s of the West and St. Gregory seminaries, a teachers’ college and a graduate school of science.
Mount St. Mary's of the West moved to the St. Gregory location in 1981 after the St. Gregory's Seminary was forced to close due to declining enrollment in 1980. The Norwood site now houses Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center, a retreat facility, for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
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