The Gans Family
The site of the Staten Island campus was originally
purchased in the early 20th Century by immigrant John Gans.
He chose the Grymes Hill location for his family estate because it
overlooked New York Harbor where he operated a steamship
company. The main house of the estate, a 30 room Georgian
mansion, was completed in 1915 and became home to son Herbert Gans
and his family.
Notre Dame College
In the early 1930’s, Herbert Gans and his wife befriended
Mother Saint Egbert, later known as Sister Helen Flynn, a Sister of
the Congregation of Notre Dame. She had just been named the
director of the newly established Staten Island extension of
Fordham University which was housed at Notre Dame Academy, a
private school down the road from the Gans estate. When the
small college of 13 students received its own charter in 1933, the
Gans family sold the family mansion to the new Notre Dame College,
a Catholic undergraduate college for women. The home,
re-named Flynn Hall after the college foundress, opened in 1934 and
graduated its first class in 1935.
In 1937, Lavelle Hall, an academic building, was added and named
in honor of Monsignor Lavelle, the Vicar General of the Archdiocese
of New York. A science building followed in 1945 named
Mahoney Hall, after its principal benefactor.
In 1955, the college doubled its property with the purchase of
the Herbert Gans estate, which included several properties, the
largest of which served as the college library. It was named
Spellman Hall after Francis Cardinal Spellman, then archbishop of
the Archdiocese of New York, who contributed toward its
reconstruction. The final purchase, an English Tudor home at
the far end of the campus, was made in 1965. The Drury
family, who had purchased the house from Hans Gans in 1945, sold
the house and surrounding property to Notre Dame College. It
was re-named Rosati Hall in honor of Bishop Joseph Rosati, C.M.
St. John’s University
Notre Dame College served the community as a premier
women’s college for over 30 years. During the late 1960’s,
when it became difficult for small colleges to survive, Terence
Cardinal Cooke, then Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York,
asked the Vincentian Fathers of St. John’s University, to
integrate Notre Dame College, in order that Catholic higher
education remain a vibrant presence in the Staten Island community
and its environs.
On January 27, 1971, the New York State Board of Regents
approved the consolidation and the Staten Island Campus of St.
John’s University became a reality. Classes began in the fall
of 1971, combining the original Notre Dame College with the
Brooklyn campus of St. John’s, offering undergraduate degrees in
liberal arts, business and education.
After becoming the Staten Island campus of St. John’s
University, the growth of the campus continued. A new
building housing the Loretto Memorial
Library opened in 1973. It was named in honor of Mrs. Loretto
McCarthy, the late wife of Charles E. McCarthy, D.C.S., Vice
President for Business Affairs and Treasurer of the
University. In the 1980s, the Campus Center was added.
It houses dining facilities, student support services and a
The Kelleher Center was dedicated in 1999. A
student-centered building donated by University Trustee and alumnus
Denis Kelleher and his wife Carol, the Kelleher Center provides the
campus with enrollment services, premier meeting space and a
state-of-the-art Fitness Center.
In Fall, 2004, the campus welcomed the John J. DaSilva Academic
Center, which features computer labs for student and community use,
a media lab, computer assisted classroom space, faculty office
space and student/faculty meeting spaces.
In Fall, 2005, a newly refurbished Rosati Hall welcomed the
College of Professional Studies administrative offices, faculty
spaces, student commons and conference space.
Today the Staten Island Campus has expanded to include 16.5 acres
serving over 2,000 students who are enrolled in undergraduate and
graduate degree programs. St. John's College
of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Peter J. Tobin College of
Business, the College of
Professional Studies and the School of Education
offer degree programs on the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral
levels with an opportunity for a commuter or residential
experience. Over 10,000 degrees have been awarded on the
campus to date.
This unique campus, where turn of the century buildings stand
along side contemporary edifices, has a magical history of design
and purpose. It fulfills the promise to bring
together the academic rigor of a national Catholic
University with the Vincentian mission. The Staten
Island Campus serves individuals beyond its shores including those
as close as New Jersey as well as students across the
Learn more about Staten Island,