Bygone DePaul: Saint Vincent’s College

Bygone DePaul is a series highlighting DePaul’s campus and how it has changed through the years.

St. Vincent's College, 1898
St. Vincent’s College, 1898.

DePaul University did not start out life with this name; instead, it was founded as Saint Vincent’s College in 1898. When the current Saint Vincent DePaul Church was built at the corner of Webster and Sheffield in 1895, the old Saint Vincent’s Church, originally built in 1875 and located at the corner of Webster Ave. and Osgood St. (now Kenmore Ave.), was converted into a classroom space for the soon-to-be incorporated Saint Vincent’s College. This building, along with a five acre plot of land called, Father Smith’s Farm, after the Vincentian who founded the parish, made up the original campus. The students and Vincentians used this land to play baseball between and after classes. And while the title College implies a certain type and age of student body, Saint Vincent’s College actually served a mixture of secondary (high school) and collegiate students.

First graduating class of St. Vincent's College
First graduating class of St. Vincent’s College, 1899.

Father Byrne was the first president of Saint Vincent’s College, and his grandiose plans for the future led to a building boom (and associated debt) which included the College Theater and the Lyceum, built in 1907. These new buildings along with an accompanying rise in educational programs (including a school of engineering and a pre-med program) led to the rechartering of Saint Vincent’s College as DePaul University on December 24th, 1907. Unfortunately, the Saint Vincent’s College building did not survive to see the day; it was razed in 1906 in order to make way for a bigger and better building – what is now Byrne Hall.

Contact DePaul’s University Archives for more information.

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