On December 18, 1916, Mother Mary Adelaide Sandusky and a group of Franciscan sisters arrived in Sylvania, Ohio, at the request of Bishop Joseph Schrembs of the Toledo, Ohio diocese. These Catholic nuns would establish the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio. This order dedicated itself to charity and educational activities in northwestern Ohio, including establishing Lourdes College.
Initially, Lourdes College was to provide young Catholic women with training as nuns, but in 1969, the institution began to accept women seeking a more traditional college education. In 1975, Lourdes College admitted the first men in its history. In 2005, almost 1,600 students enrolled at Lourdes College, which was still governed by the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio. The college remained dedicated to its Catholic beliefs and encouraged its students to engage in religious and charity work.