A Series of Stories About the School Buildings in Which We Live, Work, and Play
Afya opened its doors for the first time in August 2008 with support from the Abell Foundation and the Reinvestment Fund. The first class that year had 115 students. Eighty-one years earlier, another school started its first year in this same spot, The Shrine of the Little Flower School. On September 14, 1927, The Shrine started with 227 students and had 12 rooms for students and staff. The church, of the same name, was located in the basement of the property, and its entrance faced north, towards Kentucky Avenue.
Over the years, The Shrine’s parish grew dramatically. In 1946, a convent for the nuns was built. In 1951, a new church was constructed. In 1956, the Shrine added two additional wings to the building. At its peak, enrollment at the Shrine’s school reached 1,700 students. As reported by Paul McMullen, in his article about Shrine’s history, “Greg Malanowski, 61, was a second-grader that year [1959-69]. ‘There were 80 kids in my first-grade classroom, and there were two other first-grade classes,’ said Malanowski. The Scout troop was so large, half of us met on Monday, the other half on Friday, at the hut in Herring Run Park.’”
The Shrine thrived for many decades and then, as Baltimore’s population began to decline in the 1980s and 90s, struggled to survive. Eventually, in 2005, the school closed.
The old church is now Afya's cafeteria. The convent is now the Green School of Baltimore. Afya has been operating for more than a decade, and in August of 2018, the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners voted to merge Afya with Brehms Lane, to create a dual facility pre-k through eighth grade school.
The future of the Brendan Ave. property is changing all the time. Still, in a single place, a single space, the old and the new, the past and the future, mingle as one.