REBUILDING SHU: Architects' Designs Blend Old, New to 'Bring Back Look' of President's Hall

Marshall Hall was built in 1880s in a Romanesque style. Originally the campus library, the terra cotta relief sculptures show books and pomegranates, an expression of diffusion of knowledge. Credits: Angelica G. Avendaño
A mock-up of Stafford Hall’s new exterior provides an idea of how the new building will match with President’s Hall. Credits: Angelica G. Avendaño
President’s Hall encompasses classic architecture with a “homey” feel, especially during the holidays.

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – Seton Hall’s campus is rich in history, with a number of buildings dating back to the 19th century, including President’s Hall, Marshall Hall, Stafford Hall, the Immaculate Conception Chapel and the Carriage House of the old Elphinstone estate—a national historic landmark.

The preservation of these historic buildings lends parts of the campus an authentic collegiate charm. However, the growth of the university over the years has caused an architectural dilemma.

The addition of new buildings throughout the years has left the campus with an array of eclectic architectural styles ranging from Gothic Revival to the downright homely. With several major building projects about to get underway on campus, it will be a pressing task to blend the new with the old while respecting the past and accommodating all the most current technology.

Sign Up for E-News

As enrollment has increased over the years, additional structures were often built in the popular contemporary style, which unfortunately wasn’t always timeless. Around the mid-1930s, there came a tradition of university presidents establishing a vision of what they wanted Seton Hall to be. Each left his mark with a new structure usually, though not always, built in brown or beige brick in order to match or complement President’s Hall as well as the university’s other original buildings.

 “When you look around campus, all of the dorms, the science center and the rec center are brown and beige brick,” said Monsignor Robert Wister, professor of church history at Seton Hall. “They’re done in a modern style, which is fine, because the bricks blend in with the theme of President’s Hall. As you come down the dorms, the modern brown brick leads to President’s and will eventually lead to a new student center that fits right in to that style.”

One of the first major projects to get underway will be replacing Stafford Hall with a new academic building designed in a style that complements its immediate neighbor, President’s Hall. Wister described the architectural style as Gothic Revival, but with modern elements.

The original Stafford Hall was built in 1863 and had to be rebuilt after a fire in 1889. After a second fire in 1909, the first floor was rebuilt and a peaked roof was placed over it, which is the stunted version of the structure that remains today.

Starting this summer, Stafford will be torn down and rebuilt with 12 new classrooms. The building will be connected to President’s Hall and Marshall Hall on three levels and will have elevator access, which was not available before in any of the buildings. The addition of the elevator will make all three structures comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act without requiring major alterations to the two historic structures.

“The great difficulty with any historic building is bringing it up to current compliance,” Wister said. “By having the connections and the elevator in the new building…you maintain the historic character of President’s and Marshall and you have handicap accessibility.”

According to Tracy H. Gottlieb, vice president of student services, elevator access will greatly improve the working conditions in President’s Hall.

“(President’s) is not the best place to work, frankly,” Gottlieb said. “If you try to climb the stairs you’re huffing and puffing. The pitch of the building is such that it creates a situation where you’re gasping for breath when you reach the top.”

The new Stafford Hall will share a brown façade with President’s Hall but it will be made entirely of concrete instead of sandstone.  The base of Stafford, however, will be capped in sandstone to create a coordinated look. 

Another new structure that is expected to have a great impact on the overall look of the campus is the new University Center that is expected to get underway in 2016. The current building was built in the early 1960s and is covered in a glossy white brick that clashes with the dominant style of the campus.

KSS Architects of Princeton, which has already designed buildings for several New Jersey colleges, including Princeton, Kean and Drew, has been selected to design the new university center. John Signorello, Seton Hall’s associate vice president for planning and facilities, is in charge of overseeing all the new construction projects. He said Seton Hall is now striving for a more uniform and traditional look.

“What the university is trying to do,” Signorello said, “is bring back the architecture that was started on campus in terms of the look of President’s Hall.”

The new university center is being designed to function as a central hub for the university community.

“We want to create gathering spaces for our students,” said A. Gabriel Esteban, university president. To make way for the new university center, the current center and a nearby building, Duffy Hall, will be torn down.

Duffy Hall was built in 1946, with a pebble-covered annex added  in 1974. The combined structure served as Seton Hall Prep until 1985. It currently houses the campus bookstore as well as offices, a lounge, and several classrooms.

Gottlieb, who was a student on campus when the Duffy Hall annex was built, said she is not sad to see it go, claiming the modern-style addition left the university community appalled.

“It was pretty awful from the outset,” Gottlieb said.  

This series was reported and written by the Advanced Reporting class at Seton Hall University. This article was written by Angelica G. Avendaño, a May 2013 graduate.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Columbia High School Principal's Removal Raises More Questions Than It Answers

The last Twitter post from Columbia High School principal Elizabeth Aaron is very telling. 

The four-year CHS schools chief, who was recently, surprisingly, reassigned to a vague “Principal on Special Assignment” post by the school district, was a Twitter regular on her @CougarPrincipal account. There she would often promote the school’s successes and notable staff and ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 18

On this week’s AtlantiCast, you’ll find out how accessing care at Atlantic Health System is now easier, more affordable and closer to home than ever, learn which item from the produce aisle could be the newest weapon against cancer, see what Atlantic Health System, the New York Times and Instagram all have in common and much more.



Maplewood Police Blotter - Stolen Vehicle in Maplewood Recovered by South Orange Police

July 18, 2018

July 11 - Motor Vehicle Theft; Sometime during the early morning hours, a vehicle was stolen from a residence on the 400 block of Richmond Ave. The vehicle was recovered by the South Orange Police Department the same morning.

Maplewood Police Blotter - Two Robberies Reported on July 5

July 2 - Motor Vehicle Theft; Sometime over the previous two days, a U-Haul truck was stolen from a business on Newark Way.

July 4 - Theft from Auto; During the overnight hours an unsecured vehicle parked on Elberta Rd was entered and keys were stolen from it.

July 5 - Robberies; At approximately 1:30 a.m., a male was assaulted by two males ridding bicycles while he was walking on ...

Free 'Movies in the Park' on July 18 and August 23 in Maplewood

July 16, 2018

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Free "Movies in the Park" are planned for Wednesday, July 18, and Thursday, August 23, a program hosted by the Maplewood Police Department in conjunction with the Maplewood Recreation Department, the Maplewood Office of Cultural Affairs, SOMA Film Festival and SOMA Municipal Alliance.

The movie on July 18 will be The Incredibles, shown in Dehart Park, ...

National Weather Service Issues Heat Advisory Through 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 17

NEW YORK, NY, - The National Weather Service issued a 'Heat Advisory' this morning for Bergen, Passaic, Essex, Union and Hudson Counties in New Jersey. The heat advisory will remain in effect from noon Monday July 16, until 6 p.m. Tuesday July 17.

Extreme heat can cause illness and death among at- risk population who cannot stay cool. The heat and humidity may cause heat stress during ...

Upcoming Events


Thu, July 26, 6:00 PM

River Barge Park & Marina, Carlstadt

Meadowlands Discovery Sunset Eco-Cruise

Green Travel

Fri, July 27, 6:30 PM

Calloway's Restaurant & Bar, Staffordville

Family Promise SOC Fundraiser at Calloway's

Food & Drink Giving Back


Fri, July 27, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink


Fri, July 27, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Statement From Emergency Committee to Reinstate Principal Aaron

July 10, 2018


We created a movement. We leveraged our collective 1,600 voices and forced the District leadership to sit with us today [Monday] and discuss the poorly communicated, weekend announcement that CHS Principal Elizabeth Aaron was being reassigned.

Our meeting was a first step in both accountability and transparency as Dr. Ficarra revealed Principal ...

Coalition on Race Responds to Changes in School District Administrators

The Board of Trustees of the Community Coalition on Race seeks racial equity, integration, and excellence in education for all students in our schools. While the pace of change has been frustratingly slow, we have seen some progress. Yet, candidly, there are too many students of color who are not well served in SOMA, who still experience segregated classrooms and who still suffer from racial ...

Rutgers-Newark Athletic Field Renamed to Honor Frederick Douglass

July 22, 2018

NEWARK, NJ – Long before Rutgers University-Newark created an athletic field on University Avenue, the abolitionist Frederick Douglass delivered an address in 1849 at a church that once stood there.

Rutgers Board of Governors approved a resolution to rename the field in honor of the time Douglass spent here. The field will now be called the Frederick Douglass ...

Those Boarded-Up Homes in the West Ward? Newark Has a Plan for Them.

NEWARK, NJ - The city is using the power of eminent domain to reduce the number of condemned homes and vacant lots scattered throughout the West Ward.

The redevelopment plan for the West Ward was introduced in 2016 and encompasses properties from the border of Irvington to South 13th Street between South Orange Avenue and 16th Avenue. One of the main goals of the plan is to support new ...

Rutgers Hikes Tuition, Student Fees for 2018-2019 Academic Year

July 18, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Rutgers University Board of Governors today approved a 2.3 percent hike in tuition and fees, as well as increases for dorm rooms and meals, for the 2018-2019 academic year.

The increase now brings the annual cost for undergraduate students to $14,975, which is $337 more than this past school year.

Student housing will increase 1.9 percent, and ...

NJ Residents Take Action Against White Supremacist Fliers Found Around Bridgewater, Bedminster, Other Local Areas

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Residents of Bridgewater, Somerville, Morristown and surrounding communities are mobilizing for action after they found posters around town promoting Identity Evropa, which the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has labeled a white supremacist group.

According to Bridgewater resident Stacey Friedlander, a member of the “Not In Our Town – Bridgewater/Raritan” ...

Weekly Specials at Ashley Marketplace - July 20 to July 26

July 22, 2018

Shop Ashley Marketplace & Cafe for your everyday needs!

This week's specials are:          

Klondike Ice Cream Sandwiches 25.3oz $5.99
Driscoll’s Raspberries 6oz $2.99
Looza Juice 33.8floz $3.99
Meat Lasagna $7.99lb (Prep Food)
Almond Breeze Almond Milk 64floz $3.79
Black Angus Bone In Rib Steak $8.98lb ...

Woolley Home Solutions Building Has Unique Historical Stained Glass Window

Have you ever spotted this Stained Glass Window on our building? It's compliments of the first Methodist Church in town. The repairman saw our 1924 Autocar Truck parked outside and created this beautiful piece and installed it in our front window. The church was knocked down years ago and its location is now Walgreen's parking lot.

The church was originally built in 1836 when Maplewood ...

New Plumber Joins the Woolley Home Solutions Team

We are excited to announce a new addition to the Woolley team! Our new plumber, Oscar Buonafina, is an expert plumber with nearly a decade of industry experience serving New Jersey homeowners. He is also a NJ Master Plumber Since 2007. As a military veteran, Oscar truly understands hard work and commitment, and we’re so happy to bring him on board!

"I believe in service to people ...