Top: the Quadrangle, 2006
Middle: the Quadrangle, 1954 and 1901 (far right)
(click thumbnails for larger image)
Architect: Father Gregory Steil, OSB; Renovation Traynor, Hermanson and Hahn of St, Cloud; 2001-2002 Renovation: Raverty, Raverty, and Tollefson; 2009 Refectory Renovation: BWBR Architects.
Contractor: Brothers, local workers, clerics; 2009 Refectory Renovation: Breitbach Construction
Dates: 1869–1871 East/West Central wing; 1874 East Wing; 1879–1882 Abbey church; 1883–1886 extension to central wing and north wing and whole west wing; Renovation began in 1978 with first floor being completed in the summer of 2002.
The Quadrangle refers to the traditional monastic arrangement of buildings around a central courtyard with buildings on four sides. The Quadrangle Building has been the heart of Saint John’s since the 1880’s. The new buildings were 370 feet in length, 55 feet wide and five stories high.
The construction of this was done over a period of 17 years. The French-style mansard roof was featured in the design by Gregory Steil, OSB.
The first part to be built was a East/West Central wing (1869–1871) connecting to the new shorter south wing built in the spring of 1868. The East wing was built in 1874 between the central wing and the new church built in 1879–1882. The church provided the major part of the north wing of the Quadrangle. Then the extension to the central wing and north wing and the whole west wings were built at one time between 1883 – 1886. Thus the four sided quadrangle was completed using lumber from St. John's woods and brick made by monks. The railroad that came through abbey property in 1872 with its own Collegeville station in 1879 greatly facilitated materials not made by the monks. Slight modifications were added over time: the cold corridor in 1909; the devil’s tower stairway on northwest end in 1916.; a new brick porch replaced the wooden one in front of the main entrance to the monastery, university and prep school in 1941.
The visionary for this quadrangle was the second abbot of Saint John’s, Abbot Alexius Edelbrock. This provided the monastery and schools adequate space to expand and grow into a premiere institution of learning and the largest monastery in the world. Archbishop Ireland upon seeing the completed Quadrangle was said to be amazed at this awesome building here in the wilderness of central Minnesota. It was said to be the largest educational building west of Chicago and in fact west of the Mississippi River. Its 150’ twin towers became a symbol for St. John’s until the Breuer Banner was built.
The quadrangle has been used for monastic choir, chapter, refectory, administration and monastic cells; it has also housed diocesan seminarians; it housed the library, administration and classrooms for prep school and university, prep school study halls, Anselm Hall College students as well as other undergrads dormitories, as well as the common dining hall for the schools.
The renovation of the Quadrangle between 1977 and 2002 took longer than the original 17 years to build. The mechanical, lighting, new windows, air-conditioning, removal of plaster to reveal original brick were major aspects of the renovation. To balance the North Devil’s Tower a new Angel Tower was built on the South end of Quad as well as a new elevator to make the quad more handicap accessible. The floor by floor renovation had to be scheduled to have the least interruption to the functioning of the university. In 2001 – 2002 the first floor was completed in three stages. Major occupants of the first floor quadrangle is the University Recruitment, University Administration, Registar, Student Bursar. The other four levels are used for university offices and classrooms.
In the summer of 2009 the Refectory dining area in the Quadrangle Building was remodeled, during which time dining was temporarily provided in the Old Gym/Guild Hall. BWBR Architects did the design, with Breitbach Construction as the general contractor. The "Reef" redesign was undertaken in order to improve traffic flow and allow food to be prepared in front of the customer; promote healthy, fresh home-style service; install equipment that would allow food to be held and served at the proper temperatures; and create a more inviting, relaxing and contemporary “Saint John’s feel” to the space:
Watch Fr. Doug Mullin, OSB, talk about the meaning of Refectory at the formal blessing of the new dining area and Fr. Bob Koopmann, OSB, as he says a blessing for the newly remodeled Refectory.
Even though the Quad was scheduled to be razed by the 100 year plan of Breuer, it has continued to serve the abbey and university to the present day and a witness to the far-sightedness of Abbot Alexius Edelbrock.
- Atkinson, Megan. “Reef re-do brings options to the table,” The Record, 4 September 2009, p. 1 and p. 5.
- Barry, Colman, OSB, Worship and Work, 1956, pp. 152 – 154.
- Bromenshenkel, Fintan, OSB, “Unto Praise of Glory” Scriptorium, Christmas, 1944, p. 43-46.
- Haeg, Ben, “86 is Year of Architectural Anniversaries,” Alumni Magazine, Autumn, 1986, p. 6-8)
- Hoffmann, Alexius, OSB, “One Hundred Years Ago,” Abbey Quarterly, January, 1986, p.6.
- Hoffmann, Alexius, OSB, “One Hundred Years Ago,” Abbey Quarterly, April, 1986, p. 11-12.
- Maeder, Tobias, OSB, "Saint John's First Abbey Church II." Scriptorium, v. 20, 1961, p. 31.
- Norman, Clair, "Old St. Greg Hall Converted To New Lounge," The Record, 4 May 1956, p. 4.
- Perry, Steve. "New Dorms Highlight Changes," The Record, September 22, 1988, p. 4.
- “Quad Centenary Noted by Monks,” Abbey Quarterly, January, 1987, p 3 & 11.
- “Quadrangle Completed One Hundred Years Ago,” Abbey Quarterly, October, 1986, p. 11.
- Quadrangle Refectory (on the SJU Physical Plant website, 2009).
- Tingerthal, Rhaban, OSB, "Saint John's First Abbey Church," Scriptorium, v.19, 1960, p. 1.
- Budzien, Bill. "Old Campus Buildings Will Co-exist with the New." The Record, 11 November 1977, p. 5.
- Berg, Peter. "Quad Goes Mod." The Record, 17 November 1978, p. 7.
- Webber, Paul. "Students Greeted by Renovated Quad." The Record, 26 September 1980, p. 5.
- Ricard, Curtis. "Quad Repairs Near Completion." The Record, 29 February, 1996, p. 1.
- Pearson, Nakia. "The Quad is All Shook Up." The Record, 18 October 2001, p. 4.