Time Gone By
The evolution of the University has brought about many changes, sometimes at the expense of one-time icons, leaving us to wonder: Whatever happened to…
The St. Xavier College Building
In the beginning was the Athenaeum. Built at the corner of Seventh and Sycamore streets in downtown Cincinnati, the building was Xavier’s home until 1891 when the College finally outgrew it. It was torn down and replaced by a five-story building that served both college and high school students until the College moved to Avondale in 1919. The evening college continued to use the downtown site until 1960, when St. Xavier High School opened its own building in suburban Cincinnati and the old building was razed. It’s now a surface parking lot.
The Victory Bell
An early gift from the Class of 1968, the Victory Bell first appeared at Xavier football games in 1965 along with the University’s first Musketeer mascot. Rung after touchdowns and victories, the cast iron bell became one of the casualties of the cancellation of football in 1973. Not suitable for basketball games, it was given to the national alumni association and sat in storage until this year when it was cleaned and donated to the newly constructed athletic hall of fame.
St. Francis Statue
The white marble statue of the University’s namesake stood for more than 30 years on a terrace overlooking Victory Parkway. In 1983, erosion caused it to tumble, and it broke beyond repair. A new statue was created and the old statue’s remains were moved to storage and then to the lobby of an art studio in Covington, Ky. When that building was slated for demolition, University employees went to retrieve the remains, but they were gone. They haven’t been seen since.
The Red Building
The imposing, red, four-story structure was the University’s first building following its move from downtown to Avondale. Originally the home of the Avondale Athletic Club, the building served as the University academy from 1912-1919, as a classroom building until 1920 and as a cafeteria and activity center until 1965, when the completion of the University Center made it possible to demolish the deteriorating structure. In 1968, the Joseph Building was erected on the site.
The stately Musketeer, a gift from the Class of 1962, stood guard on the Musketeer plaza directly across from the entrance to Alter Hall from 1968 to 1996, at which time it was taken down to accommodate renovation of the academic mall. A more modern, bronze statue of D’Artagnan was placed in front of the Cintas Center in 2000, leaving the older, weathered statue in a storage facility on campus, where it rests today.
The Alter Arches
With its opening in 1960, the University’s main classroom building sported dual arches that provided the hall with both an architectural element and a support for the overhang above its main entrance. For years the arches served as hanging posts for student banners. In 1996, when the academic mall was renovated, the arches and overhang were taken down and scrapped.
After assuming operation of Edgecliff in 1980 and purchasing the campus in 1983 from the Sisters of Mercy, Xavier ran the college separately until March 30, 1987. The University then sold the property for $6.1 million to a real estate developer, who cleared the site overlooking the Ohio River and built a high-rise condominium building, known as Edgecliff Point, in its place.
The Beaux-Arts Classical-style house in nearby North Avondale housed 35-40 students a year until 1991 at which point it was sold and converted back into a private residence. Known as Marion Hall, the dormitory also served as somewhat of a classroom, with the resident Jesuit often giving Oxford-style lessons in his office. Many students may recall more vividly, however, the number of pranks played on visitors from other dorms.
In 1925 the University joined a unique cluster of seismography stations at nine Jesuit universities—the first seismology network in the nation. Xavier’s four machines, including one built by a Russian prince in the early 1900s, spit out readings in the Schmidt Hall basement. On March 2, 1937, director Victor Stechschulte, S.J., found the station had recorded the renowned Midwestern quake centered at Anna, Ohio. The station was closed in 1972 and moved to John Carroll University.
Immediately following World War II, the University’s enrollment tripled as a result of the GI Bill, leaving it with more students than its lone 100-student dorm could handle. To meet the need, University officials contracted with the government to construct military barracks on campus as temporary housing and as a student lounge. The barracks were torn down when Alter Hall, McDonald Library and Schott Hall were built in the 1960s.
The Football Stadium
Following the elimination of the football program in 1973, Corcoran Field sat essentially empty for years, suffering the ill effects of the weather and lack of upkeep. The soccer program used the grass field and the University took advantage of the sheltered spaces underneath the stands for storage. But the decay of the 15,000-seat stadium, which was built in 1921, led to its being torn down in the early 1990s. A new soccer field was built in its place.
And then there’s Dana’s, which hasn’t changed much in its 70 years or so of serving up warm smiles and cold beer to Xavier fans. Located just off campus, Dana Gardens was originally built as a firehouse in 1898 and converted by the Delaney family in 1935 into a bar and restaurant. Generations of Xavier students have whet their whistles at Dana’s, which closed briefly in 1994 but was reopened in 1996 by a trio of Xavier alums. Students today still take part in Dana’s many specials like Senior Night and Kegs ’N Eggs on graduation day.