An undated image of a postcard of Mt. Carmel Academy. (Public domain)

By Fr. Michael Peltzer
Since its beginning in 1887, the year the Catholic Diocese of Wichita was erected, Mount Carmel Academy educated girls and young women for 75 years.
The school, located on a large campus at the far west end of Wichita, was originally located on the northwest corner of Douglas and St. Paul, and was known as All Hallows until it was renamed Mount Carmel in 1902, after the motherhouse of the Sisters of Mary, B.V.M., in Dubuque, Iowa, who were in charge of the school.
The original 1886 building at the center of the campus was enlarged in 1902, when the south wing, consisting of a large chapel and dining rooms, was added. The north wing, which housed classrooms, dormitories, and a science department, was completed four years later. A dormitory and residence, called St. Joseph Hall, was added in 1921 as a separate building north of the academy, connected by an underground tunnel.
Mount Carmel Academy is remembered as having an attractive campus with its well-kept green lawns, beautiful landscaping, and occasional shrines, including a large grotto near the residence hall, which became the site of May Crowning ceremonies during those years. The BVM sisters often hosted several retreats for women.
The school was relocated in 1962 to the former home of Wichita oilman Jack Vickers and his family at the east end of Wichita, now the site of Kapaun Mt. Carmel High School. In the meantime, the old academy buildings on West Douglas became the Notre Dame High School for boys under the direction of the Christian Brothers. This was the arrangement until the new Bishop Carroll High School was completed in 1965 at Central and Woodchuck.
Before this happened, the Wichita diocese acquired the former St. Joseph Hall at the north end of the academy campus and fashioned it into a much-needed retreat house, called the Paraclete by the Jesuits who were in charge until it was renamed Villa Christi, under the leadership of the Redemptorists and the Adorers of the Blood of Christ.
The facility continued serving as the retreat center for more than 25 years until the move to the new Spiritual Life Center on the Catholic Life Center campus in northeast Wichita in 1990.
The old Mount Carmel Academy buildings were razed in 1996 and the former retreat house was sold to Friends University in 1990 and used as an additional dormitory until its demolition in 2001.
All that is left of the original campus is a large red brick arched entryway and gate still standing at the corner of Douglas and St. Paul. The area has since been transformed into a neighborhood of new apartments and homes called Mount Carmel Village, honoring the beloved school that stood there for so many years.