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


Maplewood Police Blotter - Three Thefts Reported, Including a Motor Vehicle

April 24, 2018

April 16 - Shoplifting; At approximately 3:15 p.m., officers responded to the 7-11 on Irvington Avenue on a reported shoplifter.  An employee reported that prior to officer’s arrival, a male entered the store, picked up several pieces of candy and then left without paying.

April 16 - Theft from Auto; At approximately 6:15 p.m. an unsecured vehicle parked on Van ...

Maplewood Police Blotter - Man Arrested for Package Thefts

April 5 - Shoplifting; At approximately 3:15 p.m. officers responded to the Extra Supermarket on Irvington Ave on a reported shoplifter. Jean Legerme, age 21 of Newark was detained by security for attempting to leave the store without paying for several items. He was arrested, taken into custody and later released after being charged on a summons.

April 5 - Shoplifting; At ...

Sunny Skies for the South Mountain YMCA Healthy Kids Day Celebration

April 24, 2018

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - The South Mountain YMCA celebrated Healthy Kids Day on Saturday, with lots of sun, activities, and healthy snacks, which were provided by the Stop and Shop of South Orange and Trader Joe's of Millburn,

The afternoon of fun included a climbing wall, an obstacle course, laser tag, bounce houses, and slides.

There was also an opportunity for kids to visit to the ...

41st Annual SOMA Interfaith Holocaust Service and March of Remembrance Held on Sunday

MAPLEWOOD AND SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - The 41st Annual SOMA Interfaith Holocaust Service and March of Remembrance was held on Sunday, April 15. The march assembled in Spiotta Park on Maplewood Avenue in Maplewood, and was called to order with the blowing of the shofar.

Local elected officials who attended included Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca, Maplewood Township Committee member Dean Dafis, and ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, April 25, 12:00 PM

Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, South Orange

The Purposes and Rhythms of Jewish Living

Education Religions And Spirituality


Wed, April 25, 2:00 PM

Millburn Free Public Library, Millburn

Pierre-August Renoir: The Joys of Life at ...


Wed, April 25, 6:30 PM

South Mountain YMCA Civic House (in the Park), Maplewood

Maplewood Chamber of Commerce Presents Why Walk: ...

Business & Finance Health & Wellness Other


Wed, April 25, 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

Academy Heights Residents: No More Valley Street Development Until Master Plan Approved

April 22, 2018

This past Thursday, April 19th, the South Orange Development Committee considered a presentation from developers regarding the All Star Motors site on Valley Street between 3rd and 4th. The proposal is for a 61 unit dormitory/boarding house for college students, with 175 beds and limited parking on a lot that is partially zoned for two-family residential. About 20 Academy Heights neighbors ...

Saint Barnabas Medical Center Celebrates Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Day

April 23, 2018

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Saint Barnabas Medical Center (SBMC) recently hosted a sold-out Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Day educational program, featuring Arash Fazl, M.D., Ph.D., a movement disorder specialist board-certified in Psychiatry and Neurology. 

Dr. Fazl, a Barnabas Health Medical Group provider, spoke to a capacity crowd of more than 200 people about the latest ...

Essex County Announces Partnership with Nine Local Charitable Organizations

WEST ORANGE, NJ – Essex County will participating in nine special partnerships to increase awareness about and help raise funds for the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, the Arc of Essex County, the New Jersey Children Alliance, Stop for Nikhil, The Valerie Fund, the Arthritis Foundation, the Saint Barnabas Medical Center's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and ...

Amazon Works to End Stigma of “Free and Reduced” Meals at School

April 21, 2018

FLORENCE, NJ – There is a widely unknown problem in schools all over America: a stigma among many children who are eligible for free or reduced lunch.

Rather than face the peer pressure of receiving breakfast or lunch through this federal program, many choose to remain hungry.

To help eliminate the practice, Amazon has partnered with Share our Strength’s “No Kid ...

Endangered Bog Turtle Plods Through Senate Towards Official Designation as State Reptile

TRENTON, NJ - The endangered bog turtle is one step closer to being designated New Jersey's official state reptile, following State Senate approval of legislation sponsored by Senator Kip Bateman (R-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon) and inspired by students from Princeton.

Riverside Elementary School Students Kyle Grzmala and Hayah Mian, and their teacher Mark Eastburn, joined ...

Cardinal Tobin to Speak at B’nai Jeshurun

April 24, 2018

Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, Short Hills, will welcome Cardinal Joseph Tobin on Wednesday, May 2nd at 7:00 pm.  Cardinal Tobin currently serves at the head of the Archdiocese of Newark. Members of the community are invited to hear Cardinal Tobin speak about how Pope Francis is forging a culture of encounter by renewing the dialogue between Christians and Jews.  In the pope’s ...

Class Act Performing Arts Studio Presents "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" at SOPAC

Class Act Performing Arts Studio’s senior Musical Theatre Company members will perform “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” Thursday, May 10th , 2018 through Sunday, May 13th, 2018 at the South Orange Performing Arts Center.

Set in 19th-century London, this thrilling musical tells the story of barber Benjamin Barker, now known by his alias, Sweeney Todd, and his ...

Doing Business with the Township of Maplewood: April 24

Doing Business with the Township of Maplewood

8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 24, at Maplewood Town Hall (574 Valley Street)

The Township of Maplewood has been spending more of its dollars with locally-owned businesses. We “look local first” when buying goods and services. We patronize Maplewood’s bakeries, delis and caterers; contract with ...