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The Aquilian

    The history of Cantwell-Collins-Ruesch Halls

    A photo of Gonzaga School, now Cantwell Hall and Saint Als Church (Photo by Willard R. Ross)
    A photo of Gonzaga School, now Cantwell Hall and Saint Al’s Church (Photo by Willard R. Ross)
    By Thomas Carney–

    The Collins Rotunda, Cantwell Hall and Ruesch Hall have not always been the bustling centers of Gonzaga’s academics that they are today. The math, history, Chinese and band rooms in Cantwell Hall used to be completely independent of Gonzaga . The science, foreign language and religion departments in Ruesch Hall used to be its own building. The Collins Rotunda did not exist as Student Services, rather a welcome office for The Academy at Notre Dame. 

    Cantwell Hall, built in the 1900s, was once Gonzaga School. Gonzaga School was the grade school run by the Jesuits at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parish. The school and the parish, which were primarily made up of the Irish Catholic population of Swampoodle, was open from the early 1900s until the 1950s. 

    “When the grade school closed in the 1950s it was taken over by the [Gonzaga College] High School. Gonzaga used just that part and they called it the Annex. Kids had classes there. It was a mess by the time Gonzaga had it,” said President Fr. Stephen Planning when asked about the history of Cantwell Hall. 

    Ruesch Hall has a similar history. Ruesch Hall was once The Academy of Notre Dame, an all-girls school run by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. The school was open from 1873 until 1989. The entrance to the Collins Rotunda used to be the entrance to The Academy. 

    The remodel of Cantwell and Ruesch Halls took place during the year 2000 and dramatically changed how the two buildings looked. Both buildings were gutted down to the studs and a whole other section of the building was created on the backs of Cantwell and Ruesch Halls. 

    “When you are looking at Cantwell Hall, what you see when you are looking at is all new. They extended the building inward because there had only been classrooms on one side of the building. There were classrooms that faced the street and the hallway ran along the back of the building. The same thing was done to Ruesch Hall,” said Fr. Planning when describing the remodel.

    Cantwell and Ruesch Halls have been around for decades and have a storied history, but today, Gonzaga students create a new history for these two old buildings.

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      Carol CorganApr 15, 2021 at 8:39 am

      Nice job, Tom. I love the history of Gonzaga’s campus and all the permutations it has gone through!

      Reply