St. Andrew-on-Hudson -  Then and Now

Guide for Those Interested in the History of the Main Building

and Grounds of the Culinary Institute of America

                                    Peter Schineller, S.J.

 

History

            The impressive main building,  now called Roth Hall   was opened on 15 January 1903  when  118  Jesuits  moved north from their previous residence in Frederick, Maryland,  to the newly completed novitiate of St. Andrew-on-Hudson.   The entire property consisted of  704 acres, on both sides of Route 9.    The current Culinary Institute uses perhaps 1/7th of that property, namely the land on the west side of Route 9.

            The novitiate was closed in  1969 because of diminishing numbers, and  was opened as the Culinary Institute of America in  1972.   In those 66 years of use, over  3000 Jesuit novices passed through the halls.  Now an estimated  2,700 students and staff occupy the property and the many buildings on the campus at one time.

 

 

St. Andrew on Hudson  - 1959   and the Culinary Institute of America  - 2009

            Our purpose here is to help visitors, staff and students of the current Institute  to appreciate the history and use of the property  when it was a Jesuit novitiate.   The terms of comparison would be  what was there in  1959  and what is there now in  2009.    I myself was a seminarian from 1957-61 and remember well those four years  just north of Poughkeepsie.

            Back in  1959,   there was only the main building, (now Roth Hall)  and  one storage building  adjoining that main building. Called affectionately the Lincoln Memorial, in honor of Fr. Lincoln Walsh who was Rector when it was constructed.  The garage for about six vehicles and a mechanic’s shop was there then as it is today.  There was also the Our Lady of the Way chapel which remains today at the south end of the campus.  This was donated by Mr. James D. Murphy and endowed by the  Kenedy family  (famed Catholic publisher, who put out the annual Catholic directory).  Members of the families are buried in crypt below the chapel.

            Fifty years ago, in 1959,  St. Andrew-on-Hudson was in its heyday.  It was a place where normally the first four years of Jesuit training for priesthood took place. The total community numbered about  175 Jesuits priests, novices, brothers and scholastics.

That number  would be fairly typical of the decades of the  1940’s and  1950’s.  There might be 28 Jesuit brothers (cooking, mechanics, infirmarian,  laundry, bookkeeping, farming and some retired). About 25 priests would be teachers, directors, administrators, chaplains, and some retired.

            The main group would be 70 Jesuit novices,  aged mostly 18 to 25, in two years. First year called “primi” and second year called “secundi.”     There would be perhaps 55  Juniors – Jesuit seminarians in college training.  These were divided into  lst year Juniors called “Poets” and  second year Juniors, called “Rhets” or  Rhetoricians).    These men had completed two years of novitiate and had pronounced their religious vows.

              Interesting to note that of the staff (brothers and priests) of 1959,  one survives,  98 years of age,  Fr. James McDonough, S.J. still living, retired, in the Jesuit home or infirmary at Fordham University.

 

            The priest in charge of the novices was a priest called the Master of Novices. Novitiate life meant normally keeping silent in the house always, and if you had to speak, you spoke in Latin.   Exceptions were meetings with the Master of Novices, and during a few meals each week.   Breakfast (20 minutes long – 8 to 8:20 AM) and lunch were always in silence. At the evening meal, about twice a week conversation was allowed.

            No visitors were allowed except about four times a year on a Sunday when families could visit.    Lunch was provided  (guests often  ate standing - to keep things moving).   As most of the house was “cloistered”, women were not allowed beyond certain specific areas of the house  (eg. The visitor parlors on the ground floor).

           After first vows – normally on  31 July, the feast of St. Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits, or  15 August, feast of the Assumption of Mary,   the vow men moved from the right side of the house to the left to begin more intense collegiate studies.  This took two years, accredited through Fordham University, and consisted mostly of  Latin, Greek, English, history and  speech.

            Novices and Juniors  always wore the  black habit or cassock when inside the house, and when recreating outdoors after meals.   When assigned to work in our out of the house, novices wore an army type jacket, called a manualia jacket.

 

 

            HOW THE MAIN HOUSE AND PROPERTY WERE  USED IN    1959

 

The MAIN OR  DOMESTIC CHAPEL,  now Farquharson Hall, is now  used for commencements.

            This was the gift of Thomas F. Ryan, built a few years after the main building. It was  consecrated in 1908.   In the front, on the left was the organ console, with the organ

pipes in the choir loft.   This loft was also the place where family visitors attended Mass.

            The Jesuits went to the chapel to pray several times each day -  for morning visit around 5:50 AM  (rising time was 5:30 AM every day), for morning Mass  7 AM,  and for evening prayer (Litanies) at 9 PM.  Lights out was around 10:30. The compartments on each side of the chapel were used by priests to celebrate individual quiet Masses.   Now they are used for private dining groups.

             All  entered the chapel from the back, after walking/processing through what was called the  “Via Regis” (Way of the King).  In the wintertime this covered walk way, constructed some years after the main building, was much appreciated.  On each side of the Via Regis was the “garth” – a small garden area which we rarely used.

 

1st floor  -  Ground Level 

            As you enter, you see on the terrazzo floor in green and white   AMDG.   In Latin this stands for  Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, which in English means “For the Greater Glory of God.”  Jesuits often cite this motto and try to live it, so that everything we do is done for the greater glory of God.

            A Jesuit brother was the porter, the door keeper,  answering the phone and receiving visitors.  The famous Br. Dominic Pandolfo, S.J.   had this assignment for many, many years.   If you turn left down the corridor, there was a guest parlor (where the book shop now is), then the office of the treasurer, and at the end, where the Escoffier restaurant now is, was the Brother’s recreation room, where brothers  could relax and read.

              Along the north end of the building was  the dining hall.  Breakfast at 8 AM  (7:40 for the Juniors).  Lunch at 12:30.  Dinner at  6 PM.  We took turns serving (and cleaning up) and those who served ate at ‘second table.’    Brothers sat at the far end,  Novices on the left, Juniors on the right, and fathers at the near end.    For lunch and dinner there was reading at table, where a young Jesuit read aloud some passage from Scripture (in Latin)  and then  from a book, often about history,  which continued until the book was finished. There was one priest assigned (with a buzzer) to interrupt the reader and correct mistakes in pronunciation.

            If you turn to the right at the front entrance,  where the present Apple Pie Bakery Café  is, was once a small chapel, the St. Ignatius chapel,  used for brief visits after one came in from sports or recreation.       At the far end, where the American Bounty restaurant is, was the infirmary.

 

 

2nd floor 

            In the center  front, overlooking the Hudson River Valley, now the Board Room, was the father’s recreation room.  Not once in four years was I ever in that out of bounds room!

            Walking to the north (left) down the corridor would be rooms and offices of staff. 

In the corner was the library,  two floors in height and with four levels. It was mostly classics, history, and literature.

            On the north side were two large  study halls, with individual desks and bookshelves for the Juniors – they prayed and studied in those large rooms.  

              If you walked to the right (south)  there was the rooms for the  Rector,  Master of Novices,  his assistant, and at the end a conference room where the Novice Master would instruct the novices.    Along the south side, somewhat similar to the Junior’s side were two large rooms (called ascetories)  where the novices  prayed, studied, read.

 

3rd floor

            The front of the house consisted of staff rooms.  On the north side were classrooms for the Juniors, and along the corridor typewriters.      On the  south side (Novices side) was  a section for some  older, infirm  priests and brothers.

 

4th floor -   

            Along the front were clothing boxes in the corridor.  For the most part, the 4th floor was the dormitory area.   On the left, north side, were three large dormitories for the Juniors, and on the right, south side,  three large dormitories for the novices.  Curtains separated the beds – about 25 beds in each dorm.  At the rear (eastern end) of both wings  were the individual sinks for each Junior or Novice,  for washing, shaving.  There was only cold water in 1959, and only in 1959 did water from the city or village come to us. Before that, the water came from a reservoir  across Route 9.    Showers  and toilets were down in the basement. Only for special needs, emergencies could one use the one or two toilets on the 4th floor.       Incidentally, we never used the 5th floor or attic for anything other than storage.

 

Basement

          Storage areas for tools,  repair shops, toilets and showers dotted the basement. At the north corner of the basement was the Junior’s recreation room, and the door by which they normally entered and exited.      Along the north side was the kitchen and across from it a bakery for fresh bread, pastry, pies and most cherished  corn bread.   One part of the kitchen had  a table for peeling potatoes  - a daily assignment for some novices. As they peeled away, someone usually read aloud from a book.  No time wasted !

            Along the south side was the tailor shop and laundry area  as well as the novices recreation room and barber shop.    Novices normally exited from the rear exit next to the main chapel for their walks,  sports, recreation.

 

 

SPORTS AND OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

            A softball field was located where the main parking lot along Route 9 is now found. Two basketball courts  (only Juniors could play basketball) were located  near the present soccer /baseball field.    Handball courts and tennis courts were also found near the Security  Office.    The soccer field, rarely used, was where it is now.

            Days for sports were Thursday  and Sundays.   (and in summer Tuesday and Thursday and Sunday).   Saturdays were not holidays  but class and study days.

            Swimming and Ice Skating.     There were four lakes on the property, of which only two remain.   Tertian Lake, furthest to the north, where the President’s House is found, was used for ice skating.    A smaller hockey lake, and then a swimming lake (affectionately called the “Ganges” were located where the present  Jacob Rosenthal Residence Hall is found.  These lakes are gone.  We did not swim in the river.  What we called Xavier Lake, closest to the house, remains.  It was called this, because in it was a small island with a statue of the Jesuit St. Francis Xavier, recalling that he died on a small island, Sancian, hoping to enter China back in 1552.

                  Near the current cascade in Xavier Lake is an underground tunnel that goes to  the main house.  I have no idea why this is there, or what it was used for.   I do not know of any other tunnels towards the Hudson River, etc.   There was a toboggan run from the back of the cemetery down the hill towards the lakes – rarely used.

               Now and then, some would walk across the ice in the Hudson River in the wintertime – a dangerous undertaking as  ice breakers  and currents could make it difficult.  On some occasion, the men had to walk down to Poughkeepsie and come back by the railway or vehicle bridge as the ice cutter made the return walk across the river impossible.

 

 

JESUIT CEMETERY

            This special ground is the burial place of several hundred Jesuit priests, brothers, scholastics, novices.  The oldest were transferred here from a cemetery at West Park, across and up the Hudson River,  24 Jesuits who died between 1879 and 1886.  Their tombstones are at the south end of the cemetery, smaller stones and closer together.  The most recent burial was January 1975,   Fr. Matthew Fitzsimons, S.J. He had taught at St. Andrews for many years and is buried here by exception.  For the most part, burials ended in this cemetery in the 1960’s. 

            The most famous Jesuit buried  here, and his grave is often visited, is Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.  a famed French Jesuit  anthropologist/paleontologist famed for his writings and forward looking thinking.   His grave, in the northern side of the cemetery often has flowers and plants near it.

              Among those buried here would be four young men who died in the world wide influenza epidemic of 1918-19.   And one scholastic who drowned while swimming in the Hudson to work on one of the boats we had in the River.

            At the north end of the cemetery is a large mausoleum,  the Ryan vault.  The Ryan family donated the money to build the house chapel (now Farquharson Hall). Originally they were buried in the crypt, a space under the back of the chapel. But when the chapel became the banquet hall, their graves were removed and transferred to the newly build mausoleum.  The key to the cemetery is kept at the Campus Safety Building, if you wish to visit.

 

 

THE GROUNDS

            Outside the front door, where Anton Plaza is now built, was a circular roadway  where visitors drove up.      Underneath was carved out an underground  grotto with a statue to Mary as Our Lady of Lourdes,  and an altar.

            Across Route 9  was a farm with a number of pigs, an apple orchard,  corn fields and potato fields.      Chickens were also raised, and there were bee hives providing fresh honey for the corn bread and pancakes.    Brothers cared for the farm and every autumn  pressed apples in the basement to provide fresh cider.

            Walking paths dotted the grounds on the river side of Route 9.  There were also a number of statues of  Jesuit saints.  In the evenings and afternoons,  bands or groups of three Jesuits walked for recreation.  Several times a week, this involved speaking only in Latin for the last 15 minutes of recreation.  Then the bell would ring and we would proceed back into the main house.  The sound of the bell from the tower in the main house  punctuated the day and night, ringing every 15 minutes.  For the most part, we did not have pocket or wrist watches, but  we became expert at telling time and segments of time. 

            Overlooking the Hudson were two outdoor gathering areas.  The Novice Gazebo             

built in 1917.  The concrete floor and pillars of this remain, the wooden roof is gone. 

To the north of this, along the river is the Juniors’ Gazebo or Pagoda  built in 1910.  To its right was a   flagpole which is replaced now by a  BBQ  set.

            In the Hudson River we had moored on bouys three large lifeboats.  Two were metal and one was wood and actually was a lifeboat of Normandie a luxury ship which burned at Pier 88 in 1942 as it was being refitted to become a warship.  About 20 would get into each of these boats and we would motor north to  Esopus Island for a picnic and a swim on  Thursdays.   Once a year we had a longer all day journey, down south to West Point and back.

          In 1959 there were three train tracks for the New York Central.  At one time there may have been four,  and now there are two tracks remaining.

            There were two firetrucks on the property – usable but rarely used.  One that I repaired and got working was a solid tire, chain driven truck,  perhaps from 1915 or so, with a most powerful engine.  These were given away – and the older one would make a great antique.  

            Where the Colavita Center  and Ristorante Caterina de’ Medici is now located, was called the “Hortus depressus”  -  Depressed Garden.  It was a low spot, often soggy, with flowers and bushes, but never was a lake as I have heard some say.

 

            Last bit of information.  Why  was it named St.Andrew-on-Hudson?   The first Jesuit novitiate in Rome, back in the 16th century was located at the beautiful church of St. Andrew (Sant'Andrea al Quirinale) and so New York Jesuits chose that name for the  novitiate of the New York Province.    The novitiate was relocated to Syracuse, New York, near LeMoyne College, in 1969 and is called St. Andrew’s Hall.

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