The Marianists operated Saint Mary’s Institute downtown, but they needed more room and built a second location away from downtown.The Marianists built Saint Louis College in 1894 as their solution. They continued to operate both of these locations. Marianist brothers actively contributed to the construction of the building. They spent their time working on the building to help ensure that construction went well. The Marianists showed their commitment to the university from the beginning. A lot of the building materials came from local sources because it is cheaper to move from short distances. The base of the building is made out of limestone and if one looks closely, they can see small fossils in the limestone from small ocean creatures.
When Saint Louis College opened in 1894 Saint Louis existed as the only building on campus. It housed classrooms, administrative offices, student lodging, the dining hall, the chapel, and lodging for the Marianists. St Louis existed far from anything else. It was isolated from most of San Antonio. To get to Saint Louis College, you would have needed to get a buggy to drive you from the bottom of the hill at Woodlawn to the top of the hill where Saint Louis sat. Slowly Saint Louis College expanded and added new buildings to campus.
Eventually the name changed, in 1927, to Saint Mary’s University, but the original building kept the name Saint Louis. At this point some of the duties of Saint Louis shifted to other buildings. Classrooms were added to Reinbolt, and student housing moved to Chaminade. This trend continued and now Saint Louis houses mainly administrative offices vital to the university’s operations. It still houses some classes, mainly on the third floor. Most of the classes held today in Saint Louis are political science classes.
Besides being associated with administrative purposes, Saint Louis symbolizes graduation and tradition on campus today.Most students take their graduation pictures in front of Saint Louis and the doors that are there. According to tradition, students are not supposed to walk out the doors of Saint Louis until they graduate. Campus myth status that if a student walks out the doors before graduation, they will fail to graduate on time. The walk out of the front doors are a major part of the graduation ceremony. Also, the image of Saint Louis is also engraved on the graduation ring. These traditions related to Saint Louis celebrate the graduation of St. Mary’s students.
It is one of the most beautiful buildings on the campus and it is the first thing that a person notices when heading to the front of the university. Being the oldest building on campus, the image of Saint Louis is used on a lot of marketing materials and designs for the school. For many alumni it symbolizes their time at Saint Mary’s and is the first thing they think of. Saint Louis will continue to be a symbol of tradition for students and alumni alike.