Reverend Father Lauer, then pastor of St. Mary’s Church in East Chicago, offered two classrooms for the Sisters’ use as temporary quarters until a permanent structure could be built. Accordingly, on September 16, 1921, Catholic Central High School opened its doors for the first time to an enrollment of 40 students.
In May 1922, ground was broken for a new school to be built on land purchased on White Oak Avenue between Hoffman Street and Chicago Avenue. Because of delays in the completion of the school and because of a soaring enrollment at St. Mary’s parochial grade school, a five-room temporary structure was hurriedly erected on the southwest corner of the school grounds. Though tarpaper-covered and quite primitive, these classrooms, known as The Barracks, were used for the 1922-23 school year.
Finally, on September 9, 1923, the completed left wing was dedicated. A field Mass celebrated on a makeshift altar highlighted this occasion. The outdoor Mass, witnessed by 5,000 participants, was the first of its kind in the United States.
Under the leadership of Father P. J. Schmid, appointed in 1922, Catholic Central was enlarged in the following 10 years to include a gymnasium, convent and rectory.
The year 1933 brought changes in administration and faculty to Catholic Central. Overcrowded with a growing enrollment that numbered 300 students and plagued financially by the Depression, Central was made a diocesan project of Bishop John F. Noll, newly appointed bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne.
Also in 1933, Father Alfred J. Junk was appointed to Central’s faculty. Father Junk was destined to dedicate the 24 remaining years of his life to the school.
Bishop Noll requested the services of the Sisters of the Holy Cross of Notre Dame, Indiana, for the 1933-34 school year. Thirteen Sisters arrived, led by Sister Marie Genevra, Central’s first superior and dean of girls.
At the beginning of the 1934-35 school year, Reverend H. James Conway replaced Father Schmid as director. Under Father Conway, Central experienced many firsts. The first homecoming parade, which welcomed returning alumni, took place in the fall of 1934. The first school yearbook, named after Father Jacques Marquette, was published in 1935. A school newspaper, the Hi-Lite, was published for the first time in October 1937. A grotto to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception was constructed in 1941 and dedicated on December 12, 1941, five days after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The ensuing war caused a drop in senior enrollment due to enlistments. Freshman enrollment, however, rose to 173 in 1942, the largest number until then.
In 1946, a two-story building was added to relieve overcrowding. This building added 16 classrooms to the Catholic Central complex.
The following year, 25 years after the dedication of the original school building, Catholic Central was renamed in honor of Bishop Noll, chief benefactor of the school.
Bishop Noll High School progressed scholastically to be included in the National Honor Society in 1948. In 1949, the Student Council was formed to give students a voice in deciding school policy.
A tremendous increase in enrollment for the 1954-55 academic year necessitated the use of two classrooms at St. Joseph’s Parish in Hammond. That year, a new wing was built to give Noll six more rooms.
In 1957, Father Junk, then principal, passed away. The duties of principal were then divided between Father Frank A. Seimetz and Sister Cecile Marie.
In January 1962, a fire broke out in the fieldhouse destroying biology labs, English, religion and study classrooms, along with gym facilities. Luckily, classes were not in session that day because of unseasonably cold weather. Firemen from East Chicago and Hammond fought the sub-zero temperatures for several hours to extinguish the blaze. Damage was estimated at $500,000.
Almost immediately, work was begun on an ultramodern building complex that would include an auditorium, boys’ and girls’ gymnasiums, and a three-story classroom building. Over 43 million dollars had been pledged for the project by 34 parishes throughout the Calumet Region.
In September 1962, the Christian Brothers, a worldwide order founded in 1682 by St. John the Baptist De LaSalle, took over the administration of the school. They appointed Brother I. Conrad as superintendent. Five other Brothers joined the Noll faculty at that time.
In July of 1946 when Bishop Noll laid the cornerstone of the new building, it was renamed Bishop Noll High School.