When Iron County was organized there were two villages within its borders, Arcadia and Middlebrook. Arcadia was laid out in 1849 and incorporated in 1879. It owes its existence to what was the Arcadia High School. The institution was founded by Rev. J. C. Berryman, and conducted under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. ** “The school was a grand success, and from it graduated many of the best citizens of Southeast Missouri.” A short time prior to the Civil War, he became the proprietor of the institution, but due to the war, was forced to abandon it. From 1861-1863, the buildings were used as a military hospital. Afterwards, Mr. Berryman reopened the school and continued it until 1867.
In 1869 Rev. L. M. Lewis purchased the school, and by the “liberal donations of citizens erected a new brick building, but becoming embarrassed financially he transferred the property to a joint stock company, composed of those who had furnished the most of the means to build the new edifice. From that time, by an amended charter, it became know as Arcadia College. In 1875 Professor C. O. Jones took charge of the college, but failed to make it a success and a few years later it was transferred to the Ursuline Sisters for the amount of the indebtedness upon it.” The Academy flourished under the Ursuline Sisters and was greatly expanded from 1888 through 1930. The last students to attend the Academy graduated in 1970-71.
Tour this magnificent 17 acre campus with its mature trees, stone retaining walls and nine historic buildings, collectively on the National Register of Historic Places. Stroll through the campus and view the grotto, cemetery and spring house. Of particular note is the St. Joseph Chapel with some of the most amazing stained glass windows in the world. Beautiful inside and out, it is now used for weddings, as well as religious services.
The Academy is a magnificent study of architecture. The famous spring still gushes crystal clear water. Now privately owned, it is operated by such businesses as, Thee Abbey Kitchen, Academy Antiques, Hen House Antiques, Academy Bed & Breakfast and Nostalgic Place Bed & Breakfast. The campus is located at 128 East College St. in Arcadia just off of Hwy 21.