In 2015 the building was listed for sale as “the old nunnery” building. Local oral tradition had the Herbring House as a convent for Catholic nuns at some point in history. We heard this over and over but no one had any proof. While it made a good story, we wanted to know for sure. Lucky for us we got our answer.
In November 2015 we had a chance to sit down with the Sisters of the Holy Names. Their order came to The Dalles in 1864 to found St. Mary’s school. When we asked if Herbring House was ever used by the Sisters as the convent they pulled out the diaries to take a look.
On the very first page of the diary the Sisters write about arriving in The Dalles by boat and how they are met by the local priest who takes them to the convent. They describe the building where they will be living and it doesn’t match the Herbring House.
Later the convent was located on the top floor of the 3 story brick St. Mary’s school built in 1888. 1/3 of the floor was for the Sisters and the other 2/3rds of the top floor were the dorms for the female boarding students of the school.
Some of the confusion may be because the original St. Mary’s school was directly next door to the west in a wood structure before the new brick school was built to the north across 3rd place.
If anyone has information on where the original convent was located we would love to know more.