Jean building approaches 100th birthday

Sarah Poolman, Photo Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

The Joseph Jean Building on the Saint Anselm College campus has a more interesting past than what many students may realize. While it no longer houses the bookstore and is in the space where the proposed new welcome center is planned, its history on and off campus deserves some explanation.

Built in 1919, it is one of the oldest buildings on campus. At almost 100 years old, the Jean Building’s history dates to World War I. It was constructed on Gallops Island, which is outside of Boston, where it served as one of the buildings in a quarantine and research center for Spanish influenza.

During World War II, this building had functioned as a radio school used by the Maritime Commission. After World War II, the Federal Works Agency had begun a Veterans Educational Facilities Program which allowed colleges to buyout surplus government buildings. Through the work of Father Bernard Holmes, O.S.B., the college selected three buildings that would fit in well on the empty lot on Saint Anselm College campus. The other buildings are the current Coffee Shop and Pub and the Abbey Theatre, a building that had a roof collapse in 1969.

This single-story government surplus building was dismantled, delivered, and reconstructed on campus in 1947. As its name indicated, the Classroom Building’s intended purpose was to be used for classrooms. The building was able to contain four different classrooms. This space could accommodate returning veterans and would fulfill the contract for the surplus buildings through the Veterans Educational Facilities Program.

By the 1980s, the building had become a base for computer science program. However, this was an issue because the building could not contain the oversized machines used by the students and professors. It was too cramped for a building that had a wooden frame. Eventually, Poisson Hall was constructed with classrooms and space for the computer science department.

In 1990, this building and the Coffee Shop and Pub were given exterior updates to fit the aesthetic of their location behind Alumni Hall.

The Jean Building is named for Joseph F. Jean (1928–2014) who graduated from Saint Anselm College in 1953 and was a donor and proud Anselmian. In the 1980s, Jean had become more involved with Saint Anselm College, as he also donated for the purpose of the construction of the Dana Center stage, as well as restoration for the Alumni Tower bell. According to the Saint Anselm Magazine, Jean was honored during Reunion weekend 1991, for being “a key volunteer in both the building fund and centennial capital campaign.”

By the early 2000s, the Jean building had become the new base for the college bookstore which moved out of the basement of Alumni Hall. The classrooms of the Jean Building had eventually been installed into the Lower Level of Alumni, which took place in 2002.

The history of the Jean Building is an important reflection of how the buildings on the Saint Anselm College campus have principle value. It is now in question as to what will come of the Jean Building and how a new building will factor it its place.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email