History of NDE

Notre Dame Elementary School Belmont traces its origin to the arrival of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) in California in 1851. The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur were founded in 1804 by St. Julie Billiart and co-foundress Françoise Blin de Bourdon. Together they established the community of women religious whose charism “Ah, qu’il est bon le bon Dieu” (How good is the Good God) was a much needed message during the French Revolution of St. Julie’s time, as it is today.

The Sisters of Notre Dame were founded as a community for the work of education. Founded in Amiens, France and later relocated to Namur, Belgium, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur extended themselves throughout the world. It was St. Julie’s vision that her sisters be all over the world, proclaiming God’s goodness. The sisters (SNDdeN) now live and work on five continents. Soon after the sisters arrived in California, they opened Notre Dame Academy which included a college for women, a high school, and an elementary school. First established in San Jose, CA. In 1851, the elementary segment of the school consisted of a fee-paying academy for day students and a free elementary school, which later became a parochial school.

Notre Dame Academy was moved to the Belmont campus in 1923. Notre Dame Elementary School (NDE) first occupied an area west of the ballroom in the former Ralston Mansion. In 1928, the present high school building was completed and opened for fall classes. This building was primarily  designed as a resident high school for girls. The east wing of the school served as the “temporary” elementary school. This arrangement lasted for nearly thirty years. The statue of St. Joseph, which currently stands near the primary classrooms of the current site, was part of the original school of NDE on the Belmont property.

The current Notre Dame Elementary structure was built in 1957, and in 1963, NDE admitted boys for the first time and the school became a co-educational elementary school. In the Fall of 2019 Notre Dame Elementary opened Notre Dame Preschool on the site formerly owned by Notre Dame de Namur University. Notre Dame Elementary and Preschool share the Belmont campus with the Notre Dame High School Belmont, Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU), and the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Province Center and Community.

Notre Dame campus during the early years in Belmont, California.

Sr Helen Dugan celebrating her 100th Birthday with students on October 2, 2019.