In 1915, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille established a day and boarding school for girls in Mt. Washington under the name of St. Joseph Academy.
By 1949, the Sisters saw a need for a Catholic high school for boys on the east side of Cincinnati. They approached Archbishop John Timothy McNicholas and requested permission for the girls’ academy to become a coeducational parochial high school. Archbishop McNicholas approved the change in March of 1950. He died a month later.
On January 10, 1951, again at the Sisters’ request, Archbishop Karl J. Alter approved changing the name of the new co-ed institution to McNicholas High School. In September of 1951, boys started attending classes, making McNicholas the first coeducational parochial high school in the Cincinnati area.
The only building on the McNicholas campus was the Academy building, now called the Convent. As the student population increased, additional classroom space was required. In 1953, McNicholas Hall and a gymnasium/auditorium were built. A connector called the "Streetcar" brought the two buildings together. In 1956, Alter Hall was added providing ten classrooms, a cafeteria, kitchen, and a faculty room. These areas still function as originally intended.
In 1960, St. Joseph Hall was completed, adding twelve classrooms and office space used for conferences, counseling, and administrative purposes.
As the student population swelled to more than 1,000, the "Streetcar" was converted into Marian Hall, adding six classrooms. Renovations continued as a 1,600-seat Bogenschutz Gymnasium was added, a 7,000-square foot classroom area was built over Marian Hall, and the old gymnasium was converted into the Library Media Center and an audiovisual facility. The latter now serves as the Jeanne Spurlock Theatre to accommodate theatre classes and productions.
More changes were required to accommodate program needs in the early and mid-1990s. Upper Marian Hall was converted into classrooms for the Theology Department and renovations of Lower St. Joe classrooms provided state of the art facilities for science and photography classes.
Two of the most significant changes in McNicholas history occurred in 1997 and 1998. In 1997, the Sisters of St. Joseph turned the Convent building over to McNicholas. It is now home to the Art Department and the Athletic, Admissions, Communications, Finance, and Development Offices.
On July 1, 1998, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati purchased McNicholas High School from the Sisters. Through participation on the School Board and special committees and projects, the Sisters of St. Joseph remain an active part of McNicholas.
McNicholas underwent significant renovations in 2006 when the Courtyard, the Beechmont entrance, and the Library Media Center were refurbished and the Auxiliary Gym was built. The Paradise athletic complex, featuring Penn Station Stadium, Phil Finn Track, and baseball and softball fields, was completed when stadium lights were added in the fall of 2018.
Throughout the history of McNicholas High School, many things have changed, but the mission etched into our cornerstone, "That youth may attain full stature in Christ," has remained the same.