On December 28, 1880, three Sisters arrived in Watertown from Buffalo with the purpose of opening a Catholic school. The challenges were daunting. The Catholic community in Watertown was staunchly divided between the Irish immigrant and French-Canadian populations. The North Country weather was bitter. On New Year's Day, the Watertown Daily Times published an article reporting that "The year 1880 breathed its last amid a storm of snow and wind, and its fleeting soul was borne away on the wings of a tempest." Finances were also difficult. Nonetheless, five days after their arrival, the Sisters secured a small wooden house at 114 Main Street, which at first served the parishioners of Our Lady of Sacred Heart Parish. This small house served as the beginning of Catholic education in Watertown. When finances threatened to close the school, the Sisters continued the school as a private academy known as Immaculate Heart Academy. From the beginning, the school was coeducational. The small house was both convent and school until 1883 when a new school building was erected.
The Sisters of Saint Joseph's First Mission in Watertown, 1882