Saint Joseph Hall (click thumbnails for larger images)
Architect: Raphael Knapp, OSB
Contractor: Built with local labor
Saint Joseph’s Hall, most commonly called “Joe Hall,” was in its earliest days built as a buggy shed before automobiles. It was a place where those coming to St. John’s could stable their horses. But with the advent of electricity on campus the present configuration of Joe Hall was designed and constructed in 1923 as a two story brick building for lay employees and workers of St. John’s. Since it mainly housed farm workers and lay craftsman, Joe Hall was often referred to as the “bunk house.” The building’s uniqueness was segmentally arched windows and a hipped roof accentuated by nineteen dormers. The building contains 5,128 square feet of space. In its earliest history thirty or more on-campus workers of the Abbey were housed there. With transportation options many workers found alternative housing off campus but it remained housing for faculty, graduate and special students as well as male lay workers.
Joe Hall became a favorite housing choice on campus because of private rooms and a relaxed Bohemian atmosphere. It housed about 26 students. The basement was used by St. John’s for storage until it became the pottery shop for artist-in-residence, Richard Bresnahan, in 1979.
With the approval to build Sexton Commons on the Joe Hall site, a decision had to be made for razing Joe Hall or moving it. Lots of sentiment argued for preserving Joe Hall which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The University Regents approved moving it and preserving it as housing for the university for a cost of $538,000. Stubbs Building Movers of Long Lake spent two months getting Joe Hall, weighing about 700 ton, ready for his move 500 yards to the south. It ignited local interest and excitement as the building inched its way by use of hydraulic pulleys to its new foundation. The basement under the newly relocated Joe Hall would continue to house a newly designed pottery barn for Richard Bresnahan. A celebration on August 5th, 1992 was planned with bands and past residents sharing memories of the 70 year old dormitory. Joe Hall in its new location near the Power House along county Road 159 continues to house students as it has since 1941.