The main archway of Devereux Hall.
Devereux Hall is one of St. Bonaventure University's most beautiful and intriguing buildings. Begun in 1926, Dev, as it is commonly known, is the University's second oldest existing building. St. Bonaventure's first dormitory, it is also the one with the most character due to its unique architecture. For many years, Dev has been one the most popular dorms to live in due to its inviting appearance and the nature of its residents. Dev, however, is popular for other reasons. It is rumored that the building is haunted and many of its residents will tell you that they have encountered one of its ghosts at one time or another. Dev's fifth floor is also a source of many legends and superstitions. To find out more about these stories visit: http://archives.sbu.edu/friedsam/studentpages/ghost/.
Devereux Hall as it looks today.
Devereux Hall is named for Nicholas Devereux, the man who helped to bring St. Bonaventure University into existence. Nicholas Devereux was born on his family estate in County Wexford, Ireland on June 7, 1791. Some years later, his family was involved in the Irish Rebellion and consequently lost most of its land holdings. Devereux decided to move to the United States in 1806, where he found work in Albany, NY. He later moved to Utica, NY to work for his brother John. Utica became Devereux's permanent home with his wife, Mary Dolbear Devereux.
Due to his involvement in the Catholic church, it is no surprise that Devereux wanted to establish a Catholic, Franciscan institution in Allegany, NY. In 1854, Devereux traveled to Rome and asked the Franciscans to come to Western New York and start a mission. He would provide the land and the money. The Franciscans agreed and St. Bonaventure was officially established in the year 1858. (To read more about the establishment of Bonaventure, return to the Home page).
St. Bonaventure University is not the only educational institution that Devereux helped to found, but it stands as a testament to his active work to provide institutions that combine Catholic ideals and values with a quality education. Devereux continued such work for the remainder of his days. (To Biographies Page)
In 1926, St. Bonaventure decided that it was time to build a new dormitory to meet the demands of a growing student body. On Armistice Day, November 11, 1926, the site for Devereux Hall was blessed by Father Timothy Manahan, OFM, guardian of the local monastery. Buffalo architect Chester Oakley was hired to design the building and Havens Construction Co. of Olean, NY was hired to do the contracting (Stady). It was decided that Dev would be four stories high with a "roof story" for storage. Dev was designed in the "Italian Transitional" style that was typical of Franciscan monasteries in the 16th century (Herscher). He achieved this look using Harvard Brick for the exterior and red Spanish tile for the roof. Some aspects of the architecture can also be considered as California Mission style (Toland 386).
Oakley employed the maxim that "a building should teach" as well as be useful. Therefore, bas relief plaques encircle the outside walls, providing multicolored representations and sculptures of famous men, complete with quotations and inscriptions (Herscher). These were meant to emphasize desirable virtues and act as guideposts "on the road to successful lives". Among some of these
virtuous men featured are none other than St. Bonaventure, Christopher Columbus, Alexander Hales, and Roger Bacon , to name a few. Also included were the eight greatest Americans, as voted by the student body at the time. Among this number are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Benjamin Franklin.
Featured on the front of the building are plaques with symbols of seven towns in the vicinity- Olean, Allegany, Bradford, Salamanca, Ellicottville, Portville, and Bolivar. Beneath these plaques and above the archway, are plaques depicting the Great Seal of the United States and the Seal of New York State.
Also featured on bas-relief plaques around the building are the seven medieval arts. These are: Tonus--music, Numerus--arithmetic, Ratio--dialectic, Lingua--grammar, Tropus--rhetoric and literature, Astra--astronomy, and Anglus--geometry (Toland 387). Tonus is featured with a lyre, Numerus with a knotted rope used for counting, Ratio with a dog and wolf, Lingua with a book and stylus, Tropus with a tablet and quill, Astra with thirteen stars and a sieve, and Anglus with a Latin hexameter.
The door to Devereux Chapel on the building's east side.
Originally, a chapel was placed on the east side of Devereux Hall. The chapel was converted into Garrett Theatre in 1961, but the bas-relief plaques around the former chapel door are still in place. The frieze above the door depicts the scene of Jesus teaching in the temple. Below the frieze are miniature bas-relief symbols. The cross, anchor, and heart symbolize the three Theological virtues and the serpent, triangle scale, blacksmith's forge, and sword and shield represent the four Cardinal virtues. The serpent symbolizes prudence, the triangle scale--justice, the blacksmith's forge-- temperance, and the sword and shield--fortitude (Cummings).
"Quia in his quae patris mei sunt, opportet me esse."
The chapel interior had beautiful murals painted on the walls. The mural behind the altar represented Our Lady of Grace. To the far left was St. Francis of Assisi, then Queen St. Elizabeth of Hungary. Behind St. Elizabeth stood Pontiff Sixtus IV. To the right of Mary kneeled St. Clare and behind her stood St. Bonaventure. To the far right was John Duns Scotus. These murals were removed when the chapel became Garrett Theater, as it remains today.
The mural of Our Lady of Grace.
Devereux Hall was completed in June 1928 at a cost of more than $350,000. Originally, a west wing did not exist. The west wing was not added until 1930, after a major fire razed the Monastery and Chapel and a place was needed to house the seminarians. Dev became the temporary home of the friars for thirty years, until the new Friary was created in Doyle in 1961 (Herscher).
The interior of Dev when it was first built was quite different than what it is today. The original color scheme was brown and white, St. Bonaventure's school colors (Cummings). Two parlors were placed in what would be the west wing corner to greet family, friends, and other visitors. Each floor had a suite of rooms to be used for prefects' offices and living rooms and the east wing contained an infirmary ("St. Bonas"). On the second, third, and fourth floors, the students could live in either single or double rooms (Callahan 451). Each room came with a large mahogany desk and dresser (Cummings). From the 1930s to the 1950s, the infamous fifth floor housed the football team.
After the friars moved into the new Friary (now Doyle Hall) in 1961, the east and west wing lounges alternated as recreation and storage areas. There were a few attempts to convert the fifth floor into a lounge after the football team moved out, but to no avail. The roof leaked, the students complained it was too far away, and the bad omens associated with the fifth floor discouraged some students.
The west wing of Devereux Hall as it looks today.
Today, Devereux Hall is a coed dorm. It offers students single, double, and triple rooms. Student suites are also available. Renovations were done on the interior in the summer of 1999 during which all the carpeting was removed and major repairs were made. The color scheme is now a soft green and white. Renovations were also performed on the Garrett Theater during the 1999-2000 academic year. The theater was rededicated on August 26, 2000.
Devereux Hall, though the oldest dorm on campus, still remains the most popular. It is Dev's character that gives it its appeal and invites students and visitors in to enjoy its unique atmosphere and architecture.
Last updated: 07/01/10