Mission and History


Empowering students to grow into confident decision makers and responsible leaders in a community of belonging, rooted in the Catholic Dominican tradition


We believe that…

  • Our faith in God, rooted in our Catholic Dominican tradition, promotes social justice and community service through a strong value-centered education.
  • Understanding and respecting diversity are critical to a peaceful, vibrant community and global society.
  • Each member of the community has a responsibility to respect, preserve and protect the environment.
  • Effective education develops the whole person spiritually, intellectually, socially, emotionally, physically and artistically.
  • Students are entitled to a supportive, safe and nurturing environment in which they can grow, learn and express themselves confidently.
  • Our challenging curriculum develops the critical thinking and problem solving skills necessary to make informed and ethical decisions.
  • Our school thrives as a result of the open communication and shared responsibility of the governing authority, teachers, parents and students.
  • Encouraging lifelong learning is essential for success in an increasingly complex and ever-changing world.
  • Each member of our community possesses gifts and talents, and the diversity of these gifts should be respected and cherished.
  • Our dedicated faculty and staff prepare students for life as independent thinkers, confident decision makers and responsible leaders.


Lacordaire Academy has been a landmark at the intersection of Park Street and Lorraine Avenue for over 100 years. Our original campus building, James Hall, is an 18-bedroom Richardsonian-style mansion, erected in 1894. The home was originally built for a prominent Montclair physician, Dr. Morgan Ayres, and his family. At the time of its construction, it was widely considered one of the finest residences in Montclair. 

In the late 1910s, the land and its buildings, including a large carriage house, were acquired by the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell, NJ, who conceptualized the idea of opening a selective French-English boarding school for girls. The Dominican sisters decided to call it Lacordaire School, named after père Henri-Dominique Lacordaire, who is credited for re-establishing the Dominican Order in post-Revolutionary France and is thought to be the greatest pulpit orator of the nineteenth century. 

On September 15, 1920, with Sister Concepta as the principal, Sister Aloysius as the high school teacher, and Sister Andrea as the grade school teacher, Lacordaire School welcomed its  first two students. By September of 1923, the combined registration in the grade school and high school, known as the Lower and Upper Schools, was 30 students. As the student population grew, core classes were held in James Hall while music, physical education, art, and theatre were taught in the Carriage House. In the late 1940’s, through the generous gift of an alumna, an addition was built onto the Carriage House to create more classroom space. 

By 1958, Lacordaire enrolled a total of 132 students in the Upper School, outgrowing the capacity of the original mansion of the estate. That year, a request was made to the leadership of the Sisters of Saint Dominic to raise money for a new Upper School building. On September 5, 1961, the cornerstone for a new building, Lacordaire Hall, was laid and dedicated.

By the late 1970s, the Elementary school had opened its doors to girls and boys from pre-k through eighth grade. In 1974, the name of the school was changed to Lacordaire Academy, with a separate Secondary and Elementary Division. In 2009, Lacordaire Academy was accredited as a single Academy with a new Head of School presiding over all three Divisions: Lower, Middle, and Upper. Today, Lacordaire enrolls approximately 270 students per academic year. Upper School classes are held primarily in Lacordaire Hall, and most of the Lower and Middle School classes are held in the Carriage House. Music, Cooking, Theatre, Law, Photography, and more are taught in James Hall. Students share the entire 3-acre campus and its facilities. In 2022, an alumna from all three of our divisions generously funded the construction of three state of the art science labs.