Back in 1855, St. Vincent’s School for Boys opened its doors. It was built as part of an arrangement with San Rafael businessman and land owner, Timothy Murphy—near the end of his life he offered 317 acres to the archdiocese of San Francisco on the condition that a school be built on the land within two years. Credit goes to the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, who relocated all the way from Maryland at the request of the Archbishop to raise the funds and get the school up and running. The Sisters successfully completed the school within two years, and by 1884 St. Vincent’s had grown to house 500 orphans and abused or neglected children.
Over the next few decades, St. Vincent’s experienced growth and serious setbacks, including a massive fire in 1888 that took out half the campus. In the 1920s a reconstruction project got underway, eventually resulting in many of the gorgeous buildings that exist on the campus today. The mission of St. Vincent’s continued to evolve into the 1960s as it began to focus on children in the foster care system.
In the early 1980s, the Marin County Office of Education created and staffed a non-public school in order to serve St. Vincent’s special education students. MCOE eventually closed that school. However, as the need was so apparent, an independent school was reestablished in 1985 on the St. Vincent’s campus and named after the man who first granted its land, Timothy Murphy. Initially the school only enrolled St. Vincent’s residents, but starting in the mid-1990s, TMS opened its doors to special education students from surrounding school districts. Students are now welcome from Marin County, San Francisco, and all over the North and East Bay.
To this day TMS is proud to serve the residents of St. Vincent’s. While we may be separate institutions, we share a bond in our mutual commitment to serving high-needs children in the foster care system.