In 1944, Monsignor Martin Cody Keating founded Bellarmine-Jefferson High
School. The first graduation class was the class of 1948. The
cornerstone of the first wing was laid in 1945. The original building
was parallel to Fifth Avenue.
Msgr. Keating named the school
after both St. Robert Bellarmine and Thomas Jefferson. He named the
high school after both of these important men because of his intense
interest in both men and in the ideals that he felt that both Bellarmine
and Jefferson held in common.
Many years of American history
are built into the architectural design of Bellarmine-Jefferson High
School. The front entrance, foyer and tower, exact replicas of the same
found in Philadelphia's Independence Hall, were added in 1950. The
bricks used on the exterior walls conform in size and color to those
used in the original structure of Independence Hall. Inside the front
door, the rotunda duplicates the foyer, stairway and balcony of
Independence Hall. Rising high into the sky is a clock tower that can
be seen for many blocks. The side of the clock facing east is
permanently set at 8:00 PM to commemorate the signing of the Declaration
of Independence on July 4, 1776. The side of the clock facing west is
permanently set for 4:00 PM, the hour that the Constitution of the
United States was signed on September 17, 1787.
Monsignor Keating supervised the construction of the auditorium, modeled
after the library of the University of Virginia, which was designed by
Thomas Jefferson. Details on one inside wall of St. Eleanor Hall repeat
the floor plan of Independence Hall. There is a ceiling high alcove
similar to the spot where Thomas Jefferson sat to sign the Declaration
of Independence. The thirteen steps, leading to the auditorium
entrance, represent the thirteen original colonies. In March 1980, the
auditorium was dedicated as St. Eleanor Hall.
later the Martin Cody Keating Gym was erected in memory of Bellarmine's
founder. Two classrooms, adjoining the gym, were constructed in 1985.
its beginning until 1975, the school was administered by the Sisters of
Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and remained a Parish High School
until 1980. In 1980, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles assumed the
jurisdiction of Bellarmine-Jefferson as an archdiocesan high school.
Western Catholic Educational Association (WCEA) and the Western
Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accredit Bellarmine-Jefferson