MANKATO — To celebrate a century on Good Counsel Hill, the School Sisters of Notre Dame are hosting an ice cream social and open house on Sunday.
Live music will be provided by Warren Streets, the musical incarnation of Kevin Torbenson, a Mankato dentist who is the recent winner of the 2012 Dylan Days singer/songwriter competition. He said he is currently working on a full-length album that features his sensual, folksy style.
The event will also feature SSND sisters singing favorite songs from the past as well as tours and demonstrations of the Johnson and Son organ Opus 499 at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Frozen treats will be provided by Frozen Yogurt Creations of Mankato. Extra activities for the kids include bubbles, a bounce house and sidewalk chalk.
The history of Good Counsel Hill stretches back to 1864 when a group of Mankatoans wanted to find sisters to teach at SS. Peter and Paul’s parish school. In March of 1864, after contacting the motherhouse of SSND in the United States at Milwaukee, the parishioners were told there were no sisters to spare at that time, and to check with another religious order for teachers.
One year later, the parish priest renewed the request, which this time was granted. Three sisters and one candidate left Milwaukee on Aug. 30, 1865, to make the move westward to Mankato.
The people of Mankato prepared to meet them on a Saturday evening, refusing to go home until they arrived. When the two coaches approached town, there were shouts of welcome and the procession to the Catholic church was headed by a number of residents on horseback.
A committee began searching for a suitable spot of land to build an educational institution more than 100 years ago. Aaron Duke, a local property owner, eventually donated the hilltop land at the northeast end of town to the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
In September of 1912 the first building on Good Counsel Hill had been erected. The 63 acres Duke donated became the Academy of Our Lady of Good Counsel.