In 1894, the sisters purchased a 21-acre site overlooking the Mississippi River, which they appropriately named Sancta Maria in Ripa (St. Mary on the Bank). It included a 10-room house that serve as a convent for the seven sisters until the motherhouse was completed. The house was nicknamed the White House. Once the construction began on the Motherhouse the quiet countryside was replaced with what sister called “a veritable gypsy town.” This was because many of the laborers brought their families with them. Some of the workers build small houses and others simply used tents. The following link is to a brief story of the first days. Stories of the Early Days at Ripa. The congregation laid the cornerstone on October 15.