Villanova University construction projects

With a quaint old picture of Villanova College as it looked some 60 years ago as its heading, last week’s column told something of the beginnings of one of the best known institutions of learning in the Philadelphia suburban area. Information for the column had come from “Rural Pennsylvania,” a book written by the Rev. S.F. Hotchkin in 1897.

It is a far cry from the college of 60 years ago to the campus of today. Year by year, handsome buildings have been added to those first few, the latest one being Villanova’s million dollar Garey Hall, the University’s new law school building (with two other buildings under construction).

Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the United States, laid the cornerstone of this newest addition on Saturday, April 27. Assisting Justice Warren was the Very Rev. Henry A. Greenlea, O.S.A., chairman of the University Board of Trustees and provincial of the Augustinian Order.

The new building is but one of the many handsome edifices that make up the University of today, one of several institutions of learning of which the Main Line has just cause to be proud. The 1955-56 Bulletin of the University describes the campus as “among the show places in the Philadelphia district,” adding that these university buildings are “for the most part, large stone structures imposing in appearance and modern in equipment.” In addition, the campus itself offers “every facility for athletic games and interclass contests. Baseball and football fields, tennis courts and running tracks are open for the use of all students.”

One of the most imposing of the more recent buildings is the new University library, which opened in 1949. According to the bulletin it contains a collection of approximately 115,000 volumes in addition to pamphlets, government publications and bound volumes of periodicals. The library stacks, with an eventual capacity of 400,000 volumes, are open to all students. The main reference room provides the current issues of more than 500 publications. “Special use” rooms in the library include a music and television room and a browsing room for recreational reading. The Villanova Room itself houses an extensive collection of historical material relative to the early history of the college.

Among the many other buildings is Mendel Hall, erected in 1929, which houses executive offices, classrooms and laboratories for liberal arts, sciences and engineering. The Commerce and Finance Building, completed in 1931, has executive offices as well as classrooms for students in the above subjects.

The University Chapel, which serves also as the Church of the St. Thomas of Villanova parish, is one of the older buildings, having been erected in 1888. It is the center of the religious activities of the university. St. Thomas of Villanova Monastery, erected in 1902, was rebuilt in 1933 and now houses the clerical faculty. Commodore John Barry Hall, erected in 1948, provides classrooms, laboratories, offices, and rifle range for the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps, and the chemical engineering laboratories, classrooms and offices.

St. Mary’s Hall, built in 1912, is for the use of the Seminary department of the University. Austin Hall, Fedigan Hall and St. Rita’s Hall are all modern dormitory buildings, housing a total of about 220 students.

The Field House, adjoining the stadium and athletic field, is a large, fireproof structure, built in 1932. Providing ample opportunity for indoor sports, it seats some 1,800 spectators in the balcony. A separate wing of the building houses a modern swimming pool. The main floor of the gymnasium seats more than 1,500 spectators, and there is a large stage suitable for plays and other student entertainments.

Galberry Hall, a former residence fronting on Lancaster avenue, is occupied by the Department of Research and Development. A new dormitory, Sullivan Hall, opened for the final term of 1954 for the accommmodation of 400 students. Dougherty Hall, a Student Union building, with housing and dining facilities, barber shop, student offices and lounges, was completed in 1955.

The introduction to the recent university bulletin states that during the first 50 years of the college’s history, a total of 1,599 students were taught there. During the past 20 years, the enrollment in any one year has exceeded this 50 year total. The student body is drawn from all states and from foreign countries, especially the Latin American republics.