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Notre Dame De Sion School, 3823 Locust Street

The Sisters of Notre Dame de Sion arrived in Kansas City in 1912 to open a French Montessori kindergarten at Linwood and Benton. Outgrowing those facilities in 1915, they moved to Hyde Park with the purchase of the Charles Morse home at 36th and Warwick Boulevard. In 1920, the Sisters purchased the incomparable Kirkland Armour mansion on the northwest corner of Armour and Warwick, presently the site of the Longan Middle School. In 1925 Henry Flower traded his Round Hill property south of Janssen Place for the Armour home so that the Sisters could build a large modern school. The parcel was bisected by the Santa Fe Trail and contained an Italianate villa with extensive gardens. (The house still stands on the property.) When the new four–story school was completed in 1928, it provided laboratory and library space, a gymnasium, swimming pool, and room for 200 students. In 1962, the high school moved to a new building at 106th and Wornall. Today, the school at 3823 Locust is an independent Catholic co–educational school.

Nestled in the southern slope below the school the Grotto at Lourdes is a cavernous hole surrounded by tall grass. A limestone fountain sits just inside the mouth, and a snow–colored statue looks down from the cliff above. The entire area is about the size of a large classroom. The grotto came long before the school and most of the homes in the area. It was once a cave spring for traders and final stop before Westport. The spring was a popular site until the 1840s, when travel on the Santa Fe Trail waned. In 1931, the Sisters of Notre Dame gave the spring double significance. They built a shrine on the site and turned the watering hole into a place where Catholics believe miracles can happen. The grotto is a replica of the Grotto of Lourdes in France.