Two and a half Sisters of Notre Dame (two Sisters, one novice) opened a school for girls on Dolores Street in 1866. Within three years the burgeoning enrollment necessitated building an addition.
Mission Dolores, a school for boys, opened later. (Sources indicate that it started as St. Francis Real School in the year 1852 or 1893.) In 1911 the school was taken over by the Christian Brothers who taught the upper grades while the Sisters continued to teach the lower grades. The Brothers left in 1924 and the Sisters remained to teach all grades. In 1986, the two elementary schools were combined at Mission Dolores School.