July 31, 2008
St. Louis Hall, the signature building of St. Mary’s University, has been added to the U.S. National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places, the nation’s official list of historically significant properties.
St. Louis Hall, constructed in 1893-1894, is recognized both for its historical contribution to education as well as for being an excellent example of the Romanesque architecture style in San Antonio.
“For more than a century, St. Louis Hall has been not just a structural landmark in San Antonio, but also a significant part of the religious and educational landscape of South Texas. St. Louis Hall is a symbol of the dedication to faith, service and education held by the Marianist brothers and priests who established St. Mary’s University and built St. Louis Hall,” said St. Mary’s President Charles L. Cotrell, Ph.D. “We are honored to be included on the National Register of Historic Places.”
Inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places is an official acknowledgement of the significance of St. Louis Hall, and will allow St. Mary’s to compete for certain historic preservation programs that may aid in further preservation of the building.
When it was completed in 1894, St. Louis Hall stood alone at the end of a horse and buggy trail that connected the school to the last stop of the West End Electric Street Car Company a mile to the east. Today, Cincinnati Avenue has replaced the dirt trail but the middle of the street is still centered on St. Louis Hall.
In 1894, what is now St. Louis Hall was called St. Louis College, and it was a boarding school for boys in grades five through 14. The entire school, including a chapel, classrooms, kitchen and dining room and sleeping quarters, was housed in the building. In 1904, a full college curriculum was established, and in 1921, all college classes were transferred from downtown San Antonio to the St. Louis College campus. In 1923, St. Louis College became St. Mary’s College, and in then 1927, it became St. Mary’s University.
Since the 1960s, the building and the University campus have gone through a series of renovations that have brought St. Louis Hall to where it is today. The basement now consists of mechanical rooms and administrative offices. The first and second floors are all administrative offices and the third floor is used for faculty offices and classrooms.