Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Mercy Hall

Click on image titles for larger views.
Institution Name: College Misericordia
Original/Historic Place Name: Administration Building
Location on Campus:
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1921-1924original construction: groundbreaking June 3, 1921; dedication August 15, 1924 Durang, F. Ferdinand
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: stone; masonry
Walls: hollow tile; reinforced concrete; rough buff texture brick (facing); terra cotta (trim); limestone (trim); granite (trim)
Roof: ballasted rubber membrane (present)
ca. 1924other (solarium / art studio)
ca. 1924dining hall (with kitchen)
ca. 1924residence hall (with laundry)
ca. 1924auditorium
ca. 1924library
ca. 1924other (novitiate)
ca. 1924other (convent)
1924-present (2007)other (conference rooms)
1924-present (2007)classrooms
1924-present (2007)chapel
1924-present (2007)administration
ca. 2004-present (2007)other (computer lab)
ca. 2004-present (2007)other (study / snack lounge)
ca. 2004-present (2007)other (Founders room)

Significance: architecture, culture, education, religion
Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

The Sisters of Mercy arrived in Wilkes-Barre in 1875. Once here, they lost no time in establishing a parish school, enrolling five hundred children in the first week. Night and weekend classes soon followed for mine working youth and adults. By the beginning of the 20th century, the community had grown, along with the need for more nurses and teachers. Public school teachers needed professional certification. The Sisters saw that women entering the Mercy Order needed undergraduate and graduate degrees so that they could train others. They saw that laywomen wanted the same opportunity, and that a liberal arts college could accomplish these ends. Enlisting the help of Catholic laymen, they began collecting for a college that would answer these needs. Despite the Great War of 1914, social prejudice, and a tragic fire that claimed their convent and the life of their Superior, the sisters persevered.

Philadelphia architect F. Ferdinand Durang, one of the most highly regarded architects for ecclesiastical design, was engaged to design their new home and women's college at Villa St. Teresa. On August 15, 1924 a large crowd attended the dedication of the first college in Luzerne County. Local papers reported the event, praising the sisters, their high educational standards, the beautiful Tudor Gothic building, and the faculty of "established excellence." Classes began the following month and continue to present day.

The Roman Catholic college was open to women of all creeds. One in five of its early graduates were of other faiths, yet students and sisters witnessed periodic cross burnings on the campus in its earliest years. The newcomers earned the acceptance and praise of their neighbors, and the vital relationship continues to prosper with the present-day coeducational, Roman Catholic college serving more than 2,000 students of all ages.

Additional information on the founding and growth of the college is available on the college website and in the library and archives.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Collection of master plans. Office of Vice-President of Financial Affairs, College Misericordia, Dallas, PA.

Ference, Regina C. A History of College Misericordia. M. A. thesis, University of Scranton, 1963.

Herron, Mary Ualalia. The Sisters of Mercy in the United States 1843-1928. New York: Macmillan Co., 1929.

Kelly, Regina, and Agnes Toloczko Cardoni. At the Edge of Centuries: College Misericordia 1913-1999. Dallas, PA: College Misericordia, 1999.

Selected collections. Sister Mary Carmel McGarigle Archives, Benevino Library, College Misericordia, Dallas, PA.

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Archives. Regional Community of Dallas, Dallas, PA.

II. Location of other data:
University: Library, Special Collections, Facilities Management Office

Contact us / About Site / About CIC
© 2006
Council of Independent Colleges
One Dupont Circle, Ste. 320
Washington, DC
All rights reserved
Last update: November 2006