The school's original location was at 300 Broadway in Newark. In the fall of 1980, the all-male school was moved to East Orange, where it took over the location of the closed East Orange Catholic High School. It remained open at that location until June 2003 when it closed due to a lack of enrollment. At that same time, Essex Catholic created an all-girls Catholic high school at the former location of Archbishop Walsh Catholic High School in Irvington.
The school was supported in its early years by the efforts of the Most Reverend Thomas A. Boland, the Archbishop of Newark. In 2003, Archbishop John J. Myers agreed to close the school when the student enrollment hit record lows. At its peak, enrollment hovered around 2,600; at its low, around 300.
The area surrounding the original location went into a sharp decline following the 1967 Newark riots. The situation was further complicated by an increase in tuition in the spring of 1970 that doubled the $300 annual cost to $600 per student.
The tuition increase was phased in over a period of three school years. The Class of 1971 went from $300.00 in 1970 to $400.00 in 1971. The Class of 1972 went from $300.00 in 1970 to $500.00 in 1971 and the Classes of 1973 and beyond were charged the full $600.00.
The school's 300 Broadway location is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and had been the corporate headquarters of the Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company. The building was sold by the archdiocese to a private group who later opened a nursing facility at the location.
Following the formal closing of the school in 2003, a small group of alumni and supporters attempted to reopen a "new" Essex Catholic High School at a different location. That school has also ceased to operate.
Small groups of dedicated alumni still gather to celebrate the memory of the school. In the fall of 2007 a dinner was held at the 300 Broadway location to celebrate the 50 years since the founding of the school in 1957. Many former students and faculty attended.
Where Are They Now?
As we all remember, the friendships we built at Essex Catholic provided a sense of brotherhood for many of us. Outside of school, we all had our childhood friends; but, these Essex friendship will never be forgotten. For all of us, life took us in different directions and sometimes away from our original paths (even away from New Jersey). In this new section: Where Are They Now? we hope to provide a glimpse of where many of our brothers went and what they are doing with their lives after Essex Catholic.
Hope you enjoy the new section and pleae let us know if there are any of our Brothers who you wish to recognize. Please do not hesitate to write a note in the Contact Us section of this website.