Devereux Hall (1926)

Merton Tour Stop #3

During Thomas Merton’s time as a faculty member at St. Bonaventure, he resided in Devereux Hall.  At this time Devereux was both a dormitory and monastery.  The first floor served as the friary where the Franciscans lived.  The second floor housed both faculty and students.  His first room in Devereux was on the southeast corner facing the inner court.  Here he would look out his window, past the chapel (now Garrett Theater) to the fields and heavily wooded hills.  He often prayed while looking out his window, and this peaceful landscape became associated with his prayers.  As mentioned above, St. Bonaventure’s College chapel, which is now The Garrett Theater, is located off the east wing of Devereux facing the inner courtyard.  The chapel was the primary location for religious observances on campus.  Merton’s second dorm room in Devereux came in the fall of 1941.  This time he was on the north side facing Devereux’s beach.  Here he “could see the sun shining on the green hillside which was a golf course.  All day long you could hear the trains in the Olean freight-yards crying out and calling to one another and ringing their bells.” It was during this time that Merton’s vocation to join the Trappists was confirmed.

Next Stop

Devereux Hall in the early 1940's

Construction on Devereux Hall began on Armistice Day in 1926 and the facility opened as a dormitory for St. Bonaventure students in 1927.  It was named for Nicolas Devereux, the Utica businessman and philanthropist who was one of the driving forces in the foundation of the school.  

Originally the building's first floor housed a chapel, reception room and offices.  The second, third and fourth floors were dormitory facilities, and the fifth floor was for club rooms.  The building provided sanctuary for the seminarians and friars left homeless by the 1930 fire which burned the original campus building.

Designed by the architectural firm of Oakley and Schalmo, the building is noted for its style and decoration.  Its facade is adorned by dozens of terra cotta plaques honoring religious, educational and geographic themes.

One feature of particular interest to students is Devereux Hall's "Fifth Dev" haunting.  Persistent rumors of ghostly activity regularly crop up as the years go by.

References:
Cummings, Frank. "Devereux Hall." The Laurel. Vol. 29. 1928,  p. 245-6. 
Winfield, Mason. "Bonnie's Fifth Dev." Shadows of the Western Door. Western New York Wares: Buffalo, 1997. p. 164.
Please visit our buildings site for more information regarding Devereux Hall.

Thomas Merton at Devereux Hall

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For more information about this building, visit the St. Bonaventure University Archives in Friedsam Library.
Last updated:  11/03/06