Hickey Memorial Dining Hall




Buildings Index

       The Hickey Dining Hall today.

    After a destructive fire took the St. Bonaventure monastery and chapel, Fr. Thomas Plassmann, OFM, the president of the college, was determined not to let the loss undermine the growth of the Bonaventure campus. It was decided that a dining hall would be built on the former site of the monastery and chapel. The dining hall was the first to be built under St. Bonaventure's one million dollar drive (Angelo). The building would be called Hickey Memorial Dining Hall in memory of Bonaventure's tenth president, Fr. Alexander Hickey, OFM.

Fr. Hickey was born in Cuppaunac, Bansha, County Tipperary, Ireland on June 3, 1865 (Barry). He received an education at Trinity College in Ireland, moved to the United States in 1888, and enrolled at St. Bonaventure in 1889 (Barry and Callahan). Before his ordination on June 24, 1896, Fr. Hickey was teacher. He served as St. Bonaventure College president from 1916-1920. Fr. Hickey died in New York City on October 23, 1929. He was remembered as a humble man who loved to teach and had a talent for poetry (Barry). Fr. Hickey's funeral was held at the St. Bonaventure chapel on October 27, 1929.            

The foundation for the Hickey Memorial Dining Hall was laid on October 23, 1930, the one year anniversary of Fr. Hickey's death. Chester Oakley, designer of Devereux Hall and Friedsam Memorial Library, was chosen to be the architect of the new building. Hickey was built with Harvard brick and red Spanish tile roof. A bas-relief plaque with a deep blue background with the gold, Gothic style letters "IHS" was placed above the main entrance. The letters symbolize the Holy Name and were made according to the design of St. Bernadine of Siena in the late 15th century ("Campus Architecture"). 

The bas-relief plaque above the main entrance symbolizes the Holy Name, designed by St. Bernadine of Siena in the late 15th century.  The Hickey circa early 1930s.

  The Hickey was first used on February 4, 1931. It originally seated approximately eight hundred students. The convent that was attached to the former monastery still remained and was located to the rear of the dining hall. The Hickey's formal dedication took place on February 12, 1931. It was St. Bonaventure's first true dining hall. Before the destruction of the monastery and chapel, the nuns from the convent did the cooking for the friars, seminarians, and students. When the Hickey was built, the nuns once again resumed kitchen duties, cooking meals for the entire faculty and student body.


The interior of the Hickey Dining Hall circa 1930s. The convent was a part of the former monastery that did not burn down in 1930. The convent stood behind the Hickey after it was built and the nuns did the cooking for the students.

        Through the years, the dining hall has undergone numerous changes to meet the different needs of each generation of students. On October 20, 1967, the Rathskellar opened in the basement of the Hickey in an area that was formerly part of the cafeteria. "The Home of Live Entertainment" was built in the style of a German beer hall. When the legal drinking age was changed from eighteen to twenty-one in 1985, the "Skellar" closed for a short time for reorganization. Today, the Skellar is still in the basement of Hickey, although it is no longer a part of the dining hall. It remains a popular place for students to socialize, relax, and have a good time.

Students eating a meal circa 1950s (notice the set tables).

    The year 1976 began a period of renovation and basic change in the Hickey Dining Hall. An addition was placed on the back of the Hickey and the food storage area was renovated. Also, the two top floors of the convent, out of use for eight years, were removed. The nuns had moved from St. Bonaventure in the 1960s and no longer cooked for the students. In 1985, round tables replaced the majority of the original long wooden tables. In 1987, $3,000 was spent to add carpeting to the Hickey for sound absorption ("New Carpet"). That same year a condiment and salad bar were added. In 1989, the University added hot serving tables. 

Renovations of 1976. Back of Hickey Dining Hall June 1976. First floor of convent (three story building) and the lower building were part of the monastery and chapel and are a part of the current building.

    Today, the Hickey is quite different from the day it opened in 1931. The front entrance is no longer used and nuns do not prepare the food. Students are used to do much of the behind the scenes operations in the dining hall. Also, the tables are not set individually. Rather, students get their own food using a tray system. Surveying the photographs, it is interesting to see the evolution that the Hickey Dining Hall has undergone over the years as it changes to meet the needs of an ever-increasing student body.

Students eating a meal in the early 1980s. 
Notice the changes since the 1930s.

In the summer of 2006 the Hickey Dining Hall was completely renovated.

Hickey Dining Hall before the renovations were completed in 2006.
Photos courtesy of D. Higley in the SBU construction office.

It was announced on February 2, 2006, that in order to accommodate the changing needs of the campus, as well as in order to make Hickey more appealing to current and prospective students, that Hickey would receive a major facelift. Funding for this major renovation was provided by an $8 million, 25-year, tax-exempt public bond acquired through the Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency, which also funded the construction of Café La Verna and the renovation of Shay Hall. The renovation of Hickey posed a unique challenge: there was only a small window of time in which it could be done. The project began May 15, 2006, the day after commencement, and it needed to be completed by the time students were arriving for the fall semester in late August. Through hard work and many late nights, the construction crew finished the renovations to Hickey on schedule.

As can be seen in the photos, the "new" Hickey is much brighter and more open. The false ceiling was torn out in order to expose the attractive metal trusses and wooden roof. The serving area was also dramatically altered. Instead of being a more traditional, cafeteria-style serving arrangement, the serving area in Hickey is now opened up and consists of various stations, such as the pasta station, the pizza oven, and the Mongolian grill. Students are able to walk from station to station and pick out their meal. 

Top photos courtesy of D. Higley in the SBU construction office.
Hickey Dining Hall in the fall of 2006 after the completion of the renovations.

In September 2006, construction began on the next phase of Hickey's facelift: the construction of Café La Verna. The building was completed in May of 2007, and it is very popular with the campus community. To learn more about La Verna, click here.

In 2008, it was announced that the Hickey Dining Hall / Café La Verna complex would be collectively known as the Magnano Center.


Home     Café La Verna     Magnano Center

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Last updated:  07/07/10 --3/26/03-Fr. Hickey picture added by Cathy Lapp: Internship in History, Fall 2006
                             --10/22/08- Photos and information about 2006 renovations added by Ellen Winger: Internship in History, Fall 2008.