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A History of the Physical Plant of Marist College

Submitted by the Office of Institutional Research, 1985

Marist's Roots

On one of his many trips to isolated homes in Lavalla France, Father Marcellin Champagnat found a dying young man who was  ignorant of  the most elementary truths of faith. This man's lack of knowledge provided the impetus for Father Champagnat to establish a congregation devoted to religious education. On January 2, 1817- only six months after his ordination- he confided his hopes to two young men who became the first Marist candidates. Father Champagnat, along with those two young men, began to teach to the children and adults of his parish at Lavalla in the diocese of Lyons, France. Two and one half years later he assigned his first Brothers to the schools.

When expansion of the facilities was needed due to the large number of candidates, Father Champagnat became the architect, contractor and foreman. The Hermitage, the first mother house of the Marist Congregation was the result. In 1824, Champagnat left his parish work to devote full time to the development of his teaching congregation. The Order's growth fulfilled his prophesy, "We are not for one diocese but for the world." Today Marists teach in more than 70 countries on all levels of education.

In 1885 a group of Marist Brothers arrived in the New  World and the  Holy See established the Province of the United States and Canada. Twenty years later Bro. Filip Eugene purchased property in Poughkeepsie "to serve as a house of studies."  This included land of the adjoining McPherson and Bech  estates and became known as St.  Ann's Hermitage. During the 1920s, under Brother Leo, professional training was intensified through study at Fordham University. Eventually, St. Ann's Hermitage was granted a charter as a junior college, affiliated with Fordham, to complete teacher training for the New York State Certificate.

The intervening sixty years have witnessed many changes on the 100 acre campus.  Marian College, established in 1929 as a 2-year teacher training institution, became chartered in 1946  as  a  4-year college.  In  1957  lay students  were admitted, and 3 years later the college changed its name to Marist.  In 1966 women were admitted. A brief description of each of the plant facilities follows along with other references of interest.

Marian Building (Scholasticate)


Constructed: 1908

Purpose: Barn

Site: Opposite Greystone - currently central campus

In 1912 the barn was converted to a 2-floor residence for Marist Brothers. At that time Marian, Fontaine, and what is now the library were all part of the cloister used by the Marlst order. The buildings were joined by a tunnel.

In 1947 a gymnasium was contructed adjacent to Marian. Two years after completion, a small stage was constructed, limiting basketball to play with no observers. Throughout the 1950's and early 19601s,  Co111mencemeut took flace in the building with about 400 people in attendance. In 1965 the stage was torn down, leaving more room for gym activities.

The building was bordered on three sides by single story additions. The southern addition housed the college garage for a short period. The western extension housed the laundry for the Brothers while the northern addition contained a printing shop. In the shop were 3 presses, a linotype machine, and a commercial paper cutting machine.

When the laundry was dismantled in 1966, that area was used as a day care center for children of parents working at or attending the college.  In the mid '70s the printing operation was moved to Donnelly.

Throughout this period, the Marian boiler room provided heat for Marian, Greystone, Adrian, Fontaine and the "old gym." In 1983 a separate heating plant was constructed leaving the original boiler room available for use as a paint shop and an office for the housekeeping supervisor.

The gymnasium building  was the athletic center until the Mccann Center was opened in 1977, vheceupon it was used for storage until 1983. In 1983 reconstruction to a two-floor dormitory was completed.

Today the sloping lawn and deck area occupy the original Marian site.    Marian  building derives its name from the order of Brothers founded by Father Champagnat.



Constructed: 1965

Purpose: Student Housing

Site: Central western ridge in housing complex

Architect: Paul Canin

In conformity with the housing complex, Champagnat has aluminum and glass exterior. Its purpose remains the same 20 years later.  The building is named in honor of the Marist Brother's founding father.
Champagnat houses 450 students within its nine stories and full basement. In 1983 a snack bar, the Barge, was added so as to humanize a large housing complex.

North Road Property


Purchased: 1982

Purpose: Student Housing

Site: East side of Route 9, Poughkeepsie

Numbers 61,  65,   71,  73 and 77 North Road  were purchased by the College to augment housing capacity. The frame houses, built around the turn of the century, contain
a.    5 rooms - 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 1 kitchen [#63]
b.    12 rooms - 6 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 kitchens [#65)
c.    16 rooms - 7 bedrooms, 4  bathrooms, 2 kitchens [#71]

A contingency, with the purchase, is that Poughkeepsie Steel has rights to use the driveway of #63 as a rear exit from their plant.

The buildings house 28 Marist students.


Constructed: 1962

Purpose: Student Housing

Site: On western ridge

Architect: Paul Canin

Sheahan was the first of the dormitories contructed to house 120 lay students. Central, with regard to north-south boundaries, it  later became part of the student complex. The building, though refurbished through maintenance, has remained basically unchanged.

A suite of rooms for the director was created off the student lounge in 1973. Sheahan is comprised of three stories and a full basement. The building is named after Msgr. Sheahan, pastor of old St. Peters (now Mt. Carmel) in Poughkeepsie

St. Peter's

Situated on the northern section of the campus, St. Peter's was acquired as part of the Bech estate and had been constructed to house the gardener and his family. ln 1910 the Brothers built a small wooden addition on the west side of the building and in 1928 a three-floor addition was constructed along the east side of the building. The complete structure housed the Marist Brothers.

In 1969 the remaining Brothers moved to Benoit and Gregory and both wooden additions were destroyed. Today, St. Peter's houses the administration of the Special Academic Programs.


Situated on the central section of the campus near Route 9, the Gatehouse was once part of the acquired Bech estate and housed  the Coachman and his family.

For many years in the 1940s and 1950s, the Gatehouse served as a guest house for visiting relatives and friends.

In 1966 the building was remodeled and in 1982 a new roof was installed.  The Gatehouse is now used by the Marist Brothers for office space.

Martin Boathouse

Constructed: 1963

Purpose: Rowing crew

Site: Along riverfront

Built  by the Brothers, the boathouse is named for George Martin, an outstanding proponent of crew  in the Hudson Valley.

The first  of two floors houses rowing shell storage and a bathroom. The second floor contains a shower and locker room, a second bathroom, a large open room, and a small apartment.

Cornell Boathouse

Acquired: 1977
Purpose: Cornell University crew team for Hudson River Regatta

Marist acquired the building from the City of Poughkeepsie at the time of the Water Works agreement. Along with the Cornell Boathouse, Marist acquired another, older boathouse called the California Boathouse which was siguated between Cornell and Martin. The older building has been demolished, as agreed upon at acquisition.

The agreement also stipulated that the building be used for recreation and environmental purposes. A laboratory was established in the boat-house for the Environmental Science program and today the School Boy Rowing Association, which includes Hyde Park and Arlington High Schools, has access to the boathouse.


Established in 1909 for the  Brothers at  the McCann site.

In 1973, the low  site of the cemetery and surrounding area was filled with material excavated from the construction of the North-South arterial.

Today a monument to the  Brothers stands near the north-east section of McCann over what was the burial grounds.

St. Mary's

Constructed: 1945as a 2 story wooden building

Purpose:  Residency for Brothers

Site: Hillside terrain west of football field and east of Sheahan parking lot

In 1960 St. Mary's became a student dormitory until the completion of Donnelly, whereupon it was used as a summer retreat for Canadian and Metropolitan Marist Brothers. The visiting Brothers worked on grounds and building renovations.

During the mid '40s, the Brothers constructed a small two story building on the site that is now a road between the McCann and Sheahan parking lots. The building was used to keep bees.

In 1970 both St. Mary's and the bee keeping building were demolished.

Outdoor Pool

In 1910, the Brothers dredged a pond which adjoined St. Ann's Hermitage. A cement wall was constructed around the pond perimeter and by 1930 it was  completed as an outdoor pool with a minimal capacity filtering system. The Brothers, some community groups, college employees, and their families had access.

In 1967, with most of the student Brothers having left the college, the pool operation was undertaken by the Maintendnce Department and Athletic Department.  As the number of users increased, the Dutchess County Health Department became concerned with the limited safeguards. Given community concern the Health Department gave the College three years to make the necessary adjustments. These were made and the pool continued to serve the Marist community and friends until the McCann Center opened.

The pool was back-filled in 1976 when the  McCann Center, which would  coutain an indoor  pool, was in  the completion stage. The site of the out-door pool is now included in the plans for the Lowell Thomas Center.

The north site also contained 4 outdoor handball courts until 1967, when most of the student Brothers left.

St. Ann's Hermitage


Constructed: 1885

Purpose: A wooden mansion, part of McPherson estate

Site: North edge of present Marist property

The building, part of the McPherson estate, was purchased by Marist Brothers in 1905 as the original site of a training school. It was expanded in 1920 and contained the major dining facilities, infirmary, and a chapel.


In 1953 the building was demolished by a deliberate fire, causing local concern, but set by agreement with the Fairview Fire Department.

Over the years, the Brothers had constructed small buildings to serve  as garages and storage.  The area was used for farming and animal husbandry to enable self-sufficiency. An extensive barn, which housed cows and pigs, occupied a site near the present townhouses. A tower for water supply also stood here.  The water source was an artesian well near the site of the present water works. There was also a dam on the site to supply the first electricity to St.  Ann's.

In 1964 the remaining structures were two wooden garaqes and a cement block chicken house referred to as "the coop." In 1968, the roof was raised in one section of the coop which then became the college garage and shop area for the grounds operation.

The  coop was  torn down in  1982  when the site was used for construction of the Townhouses.



Constructed: 1981

Purpose: Student Housing

Architect: Paul Canin

The Townhouses are three-story buildings which are comprised of  three   units:  A, B, and C.    Each unit contains 7 apartments with ten students per apartment. The total student capacity is 216 and a suite for handicapped students.

The townhouse dorms were constructed on the northwestern ridge where the "coop" once stood.

Service Building


Constructed: 1981

Purpose: To house garage and ground operation

Site: Northwestern section of campus along Water Works Road

The east section of the complex was part of the old water works plant of the City of Poughkeepsie, the inside of which was renovated  to accommodate equipment. The west section was added to house a 3 bay garage.

South of the garage, on what were once settling beds for the water purification process, are six Marist tennis courts.

The land was given to the college by the City while it retained a portion to the south for its new sewage plant.



Constructed: 1963

Purpose: Student Housing

Site: Central campus along western ridge

Architect: Paul Canin

The function of Leo Hall, a six story building plus basement, has not changed. ln 1969 part of the basement was converted into a suite of rooms for the director. Today the building is integral to the central student complex and houses over 300 students.

The building was named for Brother Leo who enhanced Marist's educational programs and accreditation during the 1920s.


Purpose: Holy worship
Site: Central campus

Designed by Brother N. Donnelly and constructed by the Marist Brothers, the chapel of our Lady Seat of Wisdom enjoyed dedication and blessing by  Cardinal Spellman in May of 1954. At the time of its construction, it was only the second such  circular chapel in the  U. S.  (The first  is at Logan Airport, Boston.)  A fire broke out in the Sacristy in 1977 and the Chapel  was subsequently renovated in 1978.

The Chapel basement houses the boiler room which heats the Library as well as the Chapel.

Donnelly Hall


Ccnstructed: 1959

Purpose: To house classrooms, laboratories, library, bookstore, and dining facilities in addition to dormitory facilities for 50 students

Site: Eastern area of campus between north and south entrance


The Marist Brothers built Donnelly Hall without professional labor, within a limited budget, under the surervision of Brother Donnelly after whom the building was named.  The building is two-storied and circular, 300 feet in diameter. Built into the hill landscape, the lower level is one-half the circle while a full circle constitutes the upper level. Donnelly is modern in design with aluminum framing, glass, and 1/ inch wooden panels.

Donnelly remains the major learning center and houses academic and administrative offices as well as the Computer Center which was relocated from Adrian in 1978 and subsequently expanded. The offices and computer center have replaced the cafeteria, moved to Campus Center in 1965, the bookstore which in 1967 was also moved to Campus Center, and the library when it was relocated to Fontaine in 1970.



Constructed: 1957

Purpose: Recreation Hall

Site: central campus near Greystone
The one-story building was designed by Brother Donnelly and built by the brothers in one summer. The building is named for Brother Adrian August Lambert who taught for 20 years and assumed a leadership role.

In addition to providing recreational facilities, the building was used in the evenings and on weekends, by the young novices and the Marist Brothers, to host visitors. The original facilities included a small music listening room, a  large open lounge, a kitchen, rest rooms, and quarters for Brother Nilus Donnelly.

In  1967, Adrian was redesigned to house the first small computer coom, the Registrar's office, the Business office, and the Construction office.

Further remodeling took place in 1983 so as to house the Development (Grants, Alumni, Annual Fund Drive, Public Relations) offices, Financial Aid offices and a small conference room.  In    1984,    without additional reconstruction, the Financial Aid operation was moved to Donnelly while Public Opinion and Information services occupied those vacated offices.



Constructed: 1963
Purpose: Residence of college Chaplain and center for Campus Ministry
Site: western Ridge

The primary purpose of Byrne residence has not changed over the years.  In 1979 the Chapel section of Byrne was converted to an office and  a meeting room.

The building is named in honor of Bro. George Francis Byrne, a history teacher for many years, who died in 1953.



Constructed: 1955

Purpose: study area for students

Site: North central section of campus contiguous to the Chapel

Building construction was undertaken by the Marist Brothers under the supervision of Brother Donnelly. The lower of two floors in the Library originally contained a large dining room, a kitchen, and a small private dining room. The upper floor was, at the same time, comprised of a balcony which overlooked the dining room and was lined with study desks along with a library and study rooms to service the students.

In 1964 a foyer, which led to the cloistered area, existed where the current entry area can be found. The present offices to the left of the entry and the reserve section, at that time were the sites of the President's office and the Business office.

During the years 1969 to 1972 the upper South side of the building served as a kitchen and dining area for Faculty Brothers. After extensive renovation, wich included spanning the balcony and the installation of an elevator, the library in Donnelly was moved to the current library building. It was named the Spellman Library in honor of the Cardinal.

Today the stacked book area occupies the section that was the original dining coom, the audio-visual offices exist where the original kitchen was, and the early private dining room affords the site of the audio-visual lending and viewing area. The entire audio-visual area was named the Bierne Media Center, in 1978, in honor of George Anthony Bierne. Mr. Bierne was president of the Telephone and Communications union and donated money to the college to institute television facilities. After his death, a foundation in his name made subsequent donations.

Fontaine (old)


Constructed: 1957

Purpose: To house student brothers

Site: Contiguous to Library-chapel complex

This building was another product of the Marist Brothers working for the "Donnelly  Constructicn Company."  (the name was  used  for   purchasing  and accounting records).  Its name is in honor of Brother Paul Ambrose Fontaine, first President of Marist College and prime mover in obtaining the first regents charter in 1946.

The upper two of three floors in the original building were open areas furnished solely with beds and wardrobes. The first floor served  as an infirmary. In 1968 the Formation program of the Marist Brothers was transformed and the stage of student brothers was eliminated. Thereafter Fontaine was used for storage for a brief period.

In 1969 the upper two floors were reconstructed as dormitories and used as such for three years. After that three year period, with minimal alteration, the building became offices for Marist Faculty and the first story eventually came to house the Library's periodical holdings.

Today Fontaine houses faculty offices and a few classrooms.

Campus Center (Murray Student Center)


Constructed: 1965

Purpose: To provide facilities for campus activities

Site: Western ridge in housing complex

Architect: Paul Canin

Built in the modern motif of the dcrmitories, the Campus Center exterior is aluminum frame and glass.

The interior is comprised of meeting rooms, lounges, a theater, offices related to student services, rooms that can double as classrooms, a dining hall, kitchen, bookstore, post office, and Rathskeller. It has two full stories on the East side and a third story on the West side.  The central convening hall features a long zig-zagging wall which is the main Art gallery on campus.

In 1984 an elevator was installed to service the handicapped. The basic structure and function of the Campus Center has remained unchanged over the twenty years of its existence.



The building, erected in 1859.and the oldest of the campus buildings, was part of original Bech Estate and served as the Coachhouse. The bottom floor housed the Blacksmith shop, and the first floor contained the carriages, and the second floor was used as a hayloft.

In 1928, the building was remodeled for the two-year Marist Training School. As part of that reconstruction, concrete flocrs replaced the old wooden ones, a circular staircase was removed and replaced by the existing one, and the roof was tiled. The library and chemistry lab were located here until the opening of Donnelly in 1959.

During the 1960s, the top floor was reconstructed as the President's Office, a greenhouse on the south side was dismantled and the two lower floors were refurtished to house the Academic Vice President and Admissions. These functions have remained constant.

Its beautiful construction of cut stone, with crenelated towers, add a touch of "ivy" to the Marist campus.

McCann Center

Constructed: 1977

Purpose: A major physical education and recreation complex

Site: Southwestern campus

The  Center is named after James  J.  McCann,  local philanthropist now deceased, whose foundation donated much of the construction money. The president of the foundation, John Gartland, Jr., is a Marist College Trustee and an affiliate member of the Matist Brothers.

When the City of Poughkeepsie built the North-South Arterial, the excavated solid fill was used to level off and raise the south end of campus.  The Brothers' cemetery, which stood there, was buried and the ground level raised 6-8 feet. This area, located just off the corner of the McCann Center, is now designated by a monument.

The purpose of the McCann construction was to service the community and to become competitive with other schools with regard to sports/recreation. Additional sports arena appointments were decided upon so as to make the building an acceptable Division 1 facility.

Marist East


Leased: 1984

Purpose: Additional Space

Site: North end of campus on eastern side of Route 9

The building, constructed in 1909, once housed the Western Publishing Company which is no longer in operation. In disuse since 1982, the building was available in its entirety or in part, for sale or lease.

The front first floor was leased by the college to provide administrdtive and faculty offices, classrooms, and offices for consortia representitives.



Acquired: 1983

Purpose: Additional Space

Sites: Southeastern edge of Donnelly Parking lot and Sheahan Parking lot

One of the trailers, in the northern section of the Sheahan parking lot, provides space for the Pre-school program. The program was formerly housed in the Old Gym and transferred in 1983 when the Old Gym became Marian Hall. The trailer is sub-divided into two rooms and is equipped with facilities for small children. The surrounding area is fenced off  to provide a play area.

The second trailer, in the area of Donnelly, provides additional office space for Administrative staff.

Southwestern  Section  of  Dutchess Mall


Leased: 1981

Purpose: An extension  site

The area leased in the Dutchess Mall in Fishkill on Rte. 9 is  comprised of an outer office and congregating area along with two classrooms.  Facilities include an extensive  array of computers linked to Marist's main frame.

The purpose of the extension center is to expand Marist's offerings to the community through the Adult Education program.  

Benoit and Gregory


Constructed: 1968

Purpose: Housing for Marist Brothers

Site: Along western ridge just north of the Water works Road

The  split-level architecture, designed by  Paul Canin, is best described as modern residential. In 1970 Benoit became student housing with Gregory following in 1971. The buildings serve this purpose today and house 66 students, 1 Resident Director, and 1 Assistant Resident Director.

Benoit contains 16 bedrooms, a resident director's apartment, two bathrooms (1 men and 1 women), a lounge, a utility room and a storage facility. The building is named for Brother Francis Xavier Benoit, a college professor and campus builder who is now deceased.

Gregory is made up of 16 double  bedrooms, 2 single bedrooms, 1 common kitchen, 2 bathrooms  (1 men and 1 women)  along with a private bathroom for the assistant resident director, 1 lounge,  1 utility room, and a  storage  facility. This building is named for Brother Joseph Gregory Marshessault, professor of physics, who is also now deceased.

Source: A History of the Physical Plant of Marist College

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