College built from prison stone

Archival Moment

April 27, 1857

The original St. Bonaventure's College was built from prison stone.

The original St. Bonaventure’s College was built from prison stone.

St. Bonaventure’s College, St. John’s, was designed by James Purcell and built by Patrick Keough,. It is considered one of the most recognized educational facilities in the province.

In 1855 there was a public auction to sell more than 30,000 building stones from Waterford, Ireland, which had been imported to build the local penitentiary. The Catholic Bishop of the day, Right Rev. John Thomas Mullock, took advantage of plans to build a smaller penal institution and purchased sufficient surplus stones to construct a monastery.

On April 27, 1857 the bishop laid the cornerstone of the building and named it after the Franciscan Order’s most scholarly and famous theologian, St. Bonaventure.

A year later, in March 1858, the new facilities opened. Dormitories were installed upstairs as the institution operated as a seminary.

Seven years later in 1865 the college began to admit secular students and, in 1889, the Irish Christian Brothers assumed administrative responsibilities for the school.

The building attached to the present day St. Bonaventure’s College is now known as the Old College or the Skinner Building.

Recommended Reading: Noble to the View by Bother J.B. Darcy, C.F.C. Creative Publishers, St. John’s, NL. 2007

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