Growing and changing for more than 60 years
By the late 1950s, the first wave of Baby Boom babies was starting to crowd Eugene Coyle High School in Kirkwood. It was clear that Coyle High, founded in 1939 as the parish school of St. Peter's Catholic Church, would soon outgrow its facilities. In addition, the migration of families to South County was increasing demand for more educational options for the area's many Catholics.
And so St. Louis Archbishop Joseph Ritter proposed a new private, Catholic high school for boys in south St. Louis County. (With Ursuline Academy just a few miles to the east, there was already a logical alternative for girls.) At the request of the Archbishop, the Society of Mary, an order of priests and brothers known as Marianists, agreed to sponsor the school. The school would be built on the grounds Maryhurst, the Marianist's novitiate on South Kirkwood Road.
Construction on the school began with the laying of the cornerstone by Archbishop Ritter on a cold day in January 1960. Classes began that fall with 33 seniors, 35 juniors, 35 sophomores, 215 freshmen and a faculty comprised of 13 Marianists and two lay teachers.
As expected, enrollment grew steadily in the ensuing years. Soon, around 200 freshmen were entering Vianney each fall.
The school added faculty and staff, and made curriculum changes to keep pace with education trends.
The fall of 1973 welcomed a significant innovation at Vianney - female teachers! Two joined the staff that year. In 1977, Vianney became the first South County high school to light its football field, and soon Friday night football became a staple of fall weekends.
In 1980, the Marianist order sold a large section of the campus to the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. In 1982, a striking glass-and-granite structure arose on what had been Vianney athletic fields. Vianney and the Lutherans share a main entrance and coexist comfortably as neighbors.
Vianney has continued to blend old and new. A new art room was added to campus in 1983 and converted into our Esports Center in 2021. Separate from the main school building, the former chicken coop was one of the vestiges of when the property was a working farm. In 1986, Vianney was incorporated and a board of directors was established. The board approved a master plan that upgraded Vianney's sports facilities, renovated the student cafeteria and improved traffic flow on campus.
In 2007, following an intensive capital campaign, Vianney opened the doors to an impressive new main entrance, commons area, media center, administrative offices and new state-of-the-art classrooms.
Vianney's eagerness to grow and adapt, coupled with the financial support of many long-time supporters, has enabled the school to thrive over the decades. In 2013, more change came to Vianney as the school updated the HVAC systems and installed new windows to enhance the classroom learning experience and bring the building up-to-date. In 2014, work was completed on a major renovation of Don Heeb Field, which was updated to include a new synthetic turf playing surface, construction of a fan plaza area, other stadium enhancements, and the resurfacing of the track. In the fall of 2014, Vianney announced a major milestone.
Thanks to the generosity of Emerson executive Pat Sly, a 1968 Vianney grad, and his wife, Peggy, the school embarked on a $1 million upgrade to the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) labs. In 2015, plans were announced to redevelop the Vianney baseball fields and surrounding grounds to build a stadium complex that would be used primarily for baseball, but can accommodate lower-level football, lacrosse and soccer games and practices.
In 2021, Vianney renovated the original locker rooms and weight rooms to create a 8,456-square-foot facility for students to train. The renovation included four unique locker rooms for Griffins, coaches and officials, visiting teams and female staff. Students also have access to a weight room with state-of-the-art fitness equipment and two dressing rooms for Griffin Theatre.