Meg Loughman / Gavel Media

A Brief History of BC's Most Famous Buildings and Forgotten Figures

One of Boston College’s main attractions is the campus' breathtaking beauty. Whether accented by golden hues in the fall, dusted by snow in the winter, or populated with gold and maroon (err, red, but we’ll let it slide) flowers in the spring, the stone buildings and pristine quads create a picturesque sanctuary for many BC students. While students post countless #gassongrams and admire the architecture daily, the history of the buildings and their namesakes are lost on the majority of their inhabitants.

BC’s hallmark building, Gasson Hall, was built in 1908, and was named after Thomas I. Gasson, SJ. Gasson was BC’s 13th president, and envisioned a brighter future for the university, beginning with relocating from the South End of Boston to Chestnut Hill. He then searched around the world, ultimately hiring distinguished Irish architect Charles Donagh Maginnis, who designed the building and set the Collegiate Gothic tone of the campus. Gasson is often referred to as BC’s “second founder,” so it’s only fitting that BC’s most notable and beloved building was named in his honor.

Another one of BC’s most frequented facilities is Conte Forum. The building, constructed in 1988, houses the hockey rink/basketball court, and hosts various events such as the Freshman Welcome Week Boardwalk, Pops on the Heights, and ALC Showdown. The building’s full name is Silvio O. Conte Forum, named after Silvio O. Conte, a letterman for the BC football team as well as a BC basketball player, who went on to serve for the United States Congress as a Massachussetts representative for 16 terms. Conte attended BC for undergrad under the G.I. bill, and was also a Legal Eagle, graduating from Boston College Law School in 1949. Conte’s Roman Catholic faith was integral to his life, and he was strongly connected to the BC community until his death in 1991.

Bapst Library, built in 1922, is named after Rev. John Bapst, SJ. Bapst was the first president of BC, after imigrating from Switzerland to the United States. The library was also designed by the architect Maginnis in conjuction with Gasson Hall, and is modeled after Oxford University’s Merton Tower. The first floor of the library was first used as BC’s auditorium, but now houses coveted study carrals. The second floor’s long wood tables, dusty stacks, and jewel-toned stained glass windows provide a study space that transports students deep into the life of the mind and hold onto the beauty of the past.

It is easy to get lost in the buzz and stress of day-to-day life at BC and forget to appreciate the beauty and history of our campus. Whether more recent or over a century old, BC’s buildings are both connections to the past and vessels towards the future, which deserve to be learned about and appreciated.

 

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