Sexton Commons

Sexton Commons Sexton Commons Front with Fountain Sexton Commons

Sexton Commons (click thumbnails for larger images)

Architect: Rafferty, Rafferty, Tollefson


Dates: 1992, 2001, 2011

Sexton Commons was built to satisfy student requests for an improved student center.  Architect Lee Tollefson’s design plans were approved in March of 1992 by the Saint John’s Abbey Monastic Chapter, and construction began in the following months.  The building was blessed and dedicated on October 8, 1993, but construction went into the spring semester of 1994, ending with a week-long grand opening April 23-30, 1994.

The $7.5 million needed to build Sexton Commons was raised through several means. The largest amount was donated by St. John’s alumni Bill Sexton in honor of his parents. Sexton Commons was the first building to be named after an alumni. Other funds were raised through 10-year pledges and cash donations.

Students played a role in providing input into the resources Sexton Commons would hold. They worked through the St. John’s Senate to present ideas to the Campus Center planning committee, and many of their suggestions were incorporated in the Campus Design plan. Students also had a say in the final furnishings of the building, and were urged to think about Sexton Commons as the “living room” and “hearthstone” of St. John’s University.

Original features of Sexton Commons and its link to Mary Hall included a barber shop, a pub (named after Bro. Willie Borgerding), the campus post office, a bookstore and video-rental store, a radio station, a café for students, and space for administrative services offices.

In 2000, renovation plans were made for Sexton Commons. Builders added a fourth floor and finished the Sexton Tower. The student radio station KJNB moved its operating quarters from its original space in Sexton to offices formerly used by Counseling and Career services, and Counseling and Career Services moved out of Sexton Commons to Mary Hall.  The on-campus barber shop The Hair Razor also moved from Sexton Commons to Mary Hall.

The water fountain outside of Sexton Commons was converted to a pond containing water lilies and other plants in the summer of 2011.

Sexton Commons serves as a central part of the St. John’s campus, housing the SJU Bookstore, the student-run coffee shop Johnnie Java, a cafeteria, Brother Willie’s Pub and administrative offices.


Further Reading about Br. Willie Borgerding, the namesake for Sexton Commons’ Brother Willie’s Pub