Our school was originally founded by the French Priests organized under the name of “Frères des Ecoles Chrétiennes” (Christian Schools Brotherhood) founded by Saint John-Baptist de la Salle in France (Reims) in 1860. The first institution was established on Imam street in Beyoğlu (Pera) in 1857 as “Pensionnat Saint-Joseph”. Due to space shortage this institution moved to Moda on (the Asian side) but had to return to Beyoğlu when the landlord sold the building in 1864.
In march 1864, permission was received for Saint Joseph to construct its own building on a site given for this purpose (3 hectares) from the Sultan of the period, Sultan Abdulaziz through a declaration to Emin Pasha. This declaration was lost and caused a delay of construction. In 1870, the same declaration was issued again by the Sultan Abdulaziz this time to Hüsnü Pasha, following which the actual construction began on the current site of the school.
Following the great fire of June in 1870 in Beyoğlu (Pera), the official beginning of the construction started on August 16th 1870 by the laying of the first foundation stone. Classes started in this building on November 2nd of the same year even before the paint was completely dry. This wood building of two storeys was erected on a foundation of stone but was quite reminiscent of the central building of today with its terrace and triangular roof structure. The plans included a larger building and this was realized within a short time period as the reputation of the school and parallelling increase in enrollment grew rapidly.
In 1872, the four storey South East Wing which includes the Chess Room and the high-school Vice Principal offices was constructed. The interior windows which can be seen in the “Dépense” and the infirmary are left over from this building. This wing was one floor higher than the central building. The southwestern wing of the building contaning the Turkish Vice Principal’s office and the Theater Hall was built in 1874. The Caporal House as it is known today was constructed in 1885 as a lodging building. The South eastern wing was extended to the “Preau” in 1888. The central part of the building which was mainly constructed of wood was lower one floor than both of its wings. It was decided to rebuild the central part with stone construction. In 1895 one floor was added and an extension of three meters was also added at the same time.
At the turn of the century Saint Joseph had three hundred boarding students. All the buildings were solid and spacious. The school celebrated the turn of the century and its reaching the size of three hundred students with a boat trip to Beykoz in the Bosphorus.
The establishment of a Commercial Institute in the school in 1903 with a serious programme led to the ability of graduates to find good job opportunities and resulted in a major increase in the number of applicants to the school. In response to the demand for the Commercial Institute the Northeastern building was built and the registration of the four hundreth student was celebrated in a similar manner. The construction of todays Saint-Joseph College building was completed in 1907 by the addition of the Northwest wing.
The famous “Natural Science Museum” was established in 1910. Frère Possesseur Jean and Frère Paramont-Felix had collected bugs and rock pieces until the opening of the museum.
In 1912, during the Balkan War , the school’s Principal at that time gave the use of “Caporal House” to Kızılay (Turkish equivalent of Red Cross) for the purpose of the treatment of the wounded coming from the battle front. The Brothers and the Sisters assisted Dr. Süreyya Pasha. During this war, the school was used as the “Institute for Higher Education” between 1914 and 1919.
Saint-Joseph celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1912 and its 100th anniversary in 1971. Total enrollement during this history has grown from 30 students to approximately 1000. Current enrolement is 739 students. The Saint Joseph of Today continues to provide good quality Jr. High and High School Education under the supervision of the Turkish Ministry of Education as the Saint-Joseph Private French High School and is being directly controlled by the Departement of Private Institutions of the Ministry. The school maintains its purpose of educating its students to be good citizens, productive for the society and well prepared for the universities. Many well-known soldiers, politicians, professors, ambassadors, businessmen, sportsmen, writers, artists and directors graduated from Saint-Joseph.
Saint-Joseph was a school for boys until 1987. At this time, girl students were accepted for the first time and Saint-Joseph became a coeducational school. The first girl students graduated in 1996.
Today, The Association of Saint-Joseph (founded in 1972), The Educative Foundation of Saint-Joseph High-School (founded in 1992) and The Parent-Teacher Association have all the same aim: to improve lycée Saint-Joseph.