Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Mount Saint Joseph Convent/Rogers Center

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Institution Name: Chestnut Hill College
Original/Historic Place Name: Middleton Mansion/ Monticello
Location on Campus: 9601 Germantown Ave.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1839original construction Unknown
1858purchased by the Sisters of St. Joseph and made the motherhouse and site of first academy Unknown
1860east wing added Unknown
1866enlarged Unknown
1875larger west wing added Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: none specified
Walls: Halmsburg granite
Roof: tile
ca. 1858infirmary (hospital)
ca. 1858-1858private residence (retirement home for sisters)
1858-present (2007)other (training facility for Sisters of Saint Joseph)
ca. 1903other (previous schools: Mount Saint Joseph Academy, Mount Saint Joseph Normal School)
ca. 2004-present (2007)other (Institutional Advancement offices)
ca. 2004-present (2007)private residence (residences for the sisters)
ca. 2004-present (2007)other (offices for congregational affairs)

Significance: architecture, culture, education, history, religion
Landmark designation:
National RegisterChestnut Hill Historic District (1985)
Narrative: see below
References: see below

The Sisters of Saint Joseph purchased Monticello from Joseph Middleton in 1858 and made it their motherhouse and site of the first Academy. The house was located on the site of the former Dewees Paper Mill, the second paper mill in the United States, which was built in 1708. When the space proved too small for the Sisters and the students, an east wing was added in 1860 and enlarged in 1866. A larger west wing was added in 1875, which was to become the second Academy and later the Novitiate after Mount Saint Joseph Collegiate Institute was opened in 1903. This wing currently houses some offices for Chestnut Hill College.

The current architecture is in the Italianate style and blends well with the other buildings on campus. However, the significance of this building lies mainly in the educational and religious history it contains. From 1858 to the present day, all Sisters of Saint Joseph have received their initial training here, and it is also the site of congregational gatherings and official business. It was here that Mount Saint Joseph Academy developed and later grew into Mount Saint Joseph Normal School and Mount Saint Joseph College, later renamed Chestnut Hill College.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Chestnut Hill Historic District. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1985.

Contosta, David R. "The Philadelphia Story: Life at Immaculata, Rosemont, and Chestnut Hill." In Catholic Women's Colleges in America, edited by Tracy Schier and Cynthia Russett, 123-60. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.

Contosta, David R., and Carol L. Franklin. "Philadelphia's Wissahickon Valley."

Kashuba, Mary Helen. Chestnut Hill College, 1924-1999: Tradition and Risk. Virginia Beach, VA: Donning Company, 1999.

Logue, Maria Kostka. Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia: A Century of Growth and Development , 1847-1947. Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1950.

Lukacs, John. A Sketch of the History of Chestnut Hill College, 1924-1974. Chestnut Hill, PA: Chestnut Hill College, 1975.

Mark B. Thompson Associates, Architecture & Planning. Chestnut Hill College Strategic Site and Facilities Master Plan Program Report. [Philadelphia: Mark B. Thompson Associates], 1995.

II. Location of other data:
University: Special Collections
Other: Chestnut Hill Historical Society

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