By: Annibelle Keefer, Staff Writer
Newman University’s oldest standing building — Sacred Heart Hall — turns 100 this month, and the school has plans to commemorate the centennial both with a special mass and with a display set up inside the building.
Construction on the hall, which sits in the middle of campus and contains St. John’s Chapel, started after its cornerstone was laid on Sept. 12, 1922. The building has changed drastically over the past 100 years, campus historians say. The third floor, which was once just classrooms, now also houses the Runway Learning Center, where students can receive academic advising, tutoring and perform make-up exams.
The Welcome Center inside Sacred Heart hosts tours for future students and for alumni. Amy Arrington, the Welcome Center manager, said she loves that the building still has its original flooring.
“I did have a graduating class from the 1950s that came back and they visited the hall. They were very excited to see that the flooring is the same as when they went to school here,” she said.
Some of the most significant changes to the building, though, have been on the ground floor. The front of what is now Mail and Copy used to be the food serving area for the Newman cafeteria. The mail storage room still has the original flooring and layout from the old cafeteria kitchen. Students would walk through Mail and Copy into what is now the Sacred Heart Hall living room to eat.
The ground floor break room was once a snack bar for students and was connected to the old student lounge, now the Martin Park Golf Learning Center. University Archives, once the bookstore, is open to students to visit on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The chapel has undergone three major renovations: one in 1942, one in 1994 and one in 2018, during which damaged and worn furniture was replaced and the chapel was made handicap accessible.
Many faculty members who work within Sacred Heart Hall say they enjoy how close the chapel is.
“It’s wonderful working in a building where the chapel is right there,” said Campus Ministry Assistant Director Emily Simon. “I can go to the chapel and have that space.”
The Centennial Celebration mass is at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday and will be followed by a brunch in the dining hall plus campus tours and croquet and cornhole on the quad. The celebration will conclude next summer with an alumni reunion.
Also, a special display featuring photos and artifacts called “Celebrating Sacred Heart Hall” is set up in The Heritage Room.
PHOTO: Cole Farquhar, Staff Photographer