The Jesuits Move North to Welch Hall

In 1920 the Jesuits benefited again from the generosity of Mrs. Bertha Welch, who built a residence hall for the priests adjacent to the church. Rather than donate funds to the Jesuits, she oversaw construction herself as while she was “altogether genuinely fond of the Fathers, as she had shown abundantly in the past, she was not overly convinced of their business acumen….”1

The former Jesuit residence in the Shirt Factory was turned into classrooms, and the Jesuits expanded the science labs, which while improving the school, also moved it further into debt. Two massive fund-raisers, the May Festival, held in 1921 and 1924, took place in the Civic Auditorium, and the SI Jesuits managed to repay a $100,000 loan to the Hibernia Bank.

(Jesuits in both the college and high school communities lived together in Welch Hall from 1921 until 1959 when the USF Jesuits moved to Xavier Hall. The Jesuits teaching at the high school stayed at Welch until 1969 when they moved to McGucken Hall in the Sunset District campus. Welch Hall was demolished in 1970 and the open lawn area is now called Welch Field. From all reports, Welch Hall offered threadbare accommodations, and some of the high school priests in the 1960s perhaps resented the fact that they had to remain there, with its leaking roof, while their college counterparts moved into modern quarters.)