THE UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO
A time honored educational institution of the state of California is the University of San Francisco, formerly
known as St. Ignatius College. In May, 1855, at Fourth and Market streets, the site of the present Emporium building,
the Rev. Anthony Maraschi, S. J., erected a small frame building having just two rooms and a kitchen, and this
he called St. Ignatius College.
The coming of the Jesuits to California on December 8, 1849, was in reality their return to California after an
enforced absence of nearly three quarters of a century. Of this journey to San Francisco from Oregon, one of the
priests wrote: "We prepared ourselves for our voyage, and although we embarked at the end of October, on the
day sacred to the memory of Blessed Alphonsus Rodriquez, we were unable, on account of contrary winds, to set sail
before December 3, 1849, on which day, the winds veering in our favor, we reached with rapid course the object
of our journey, arriving on the night of December 8, so that the next day we were able to set foot on the longed
for shores of what goes under the name of San Francisco, but which, whether it should be called madhouse or Babylon,
I am at a loss to determine; so great in those days was the disorder, the brawling, the open immorality, the reign
of crime, which, brazen faced, triumphed on a soil not yet brought under the sway of human laws."
The coming of the Jesuits, and the establishment of the little St. Ignatius, were factors looking toward the cultural
and moral regeneration of this mining community. The humble beginning, as it undoubtedly was with one teacher and
one student, was just the beginning of one of the community's fine influences. A brick building was later built
on the original site, but in 1887 the priests sold this property and moved to what is now Hayes street and Van
Ness avenue. In the year 1859, the state legislature granted a charter to the institution, under the terms of which
it could grant degrees and have all the privileges of any educational organization of the country. Then, through
a period of almost a half century, the college grew in size and in prestige. It became nationally known as one
of the best Catholic schools of the country. A science building, library, laboratories, gymnasium, theater, and
a beautiful church structure had been added to the equipment of the school. The golden jubilee had been celebrated,
and the greatest optimism existed for the future. Then, on April 18, 1906, the devastating earthquake and fire
visited San Francisco, and St. Ignatius College was reduced to ashes and ruins. Undaunted, however, the Jesuit
authorities in charge of the school began over again at Shrader and Hayes streets. Step by step the school has
since grown. Just after the fire of 1906, there were three hundred students in the high school and college together.
In 1931, there are fourteen hundred and thirty three in the college and seven hundred and ninety in the high school.
Many fine buildings, of attractive architecture and on an eminence commanding a fine view of the city, now house
the work of this college. The church building was constructed in 1914; the administration building in 1921; the
College of Liberal Arts in 1927; the new high school in 1929; and the College of Fine Arts in 1931. The law college
of the university has grown to be a big feature, and scores of men who have become noted in the lawn profession
have graduated therefrom. Baseball, football, basket ball and track sports have been accorded generous attention
by the school authorities, and capable athletic groups have carried the school to victory on many occasions.
On Thursday, May 22, 1930, there was celebrated the diamond jubilee of St. Ignatius College, and appropriate exercises
were held in the dedication of the memorial plaque on the Emporium building, which, as previously noted, stands
on the first site of the college. The celebration was under the auspices of the Society of California Pioneers,
and in addition to the members of this society present there were graduates of the first college, and members of
the Alumni Association. Addresses were made by Oliver P. Stidger, the Most Rev. Archbishop Edward J. Hanna, D.
D., the Very Rev. Edward J. Whelan, president of the institution, and A. B. C. Dohrman, chairman of the board of
As stated in the program of the occasion, "In vision those gathered there saw again the pioneer educators
and the materialization of their vision which lives in the towering St. Ignatius College, whose first building
was on the ground where the Emporium now stands."
The History of San Francisco, California
Lewis Francis Byington, Supervising Editor
Oscar Lewis, Associate Editor
The S. J. Clark Publishing Company
Chicago-San Francisco 1931
San Francisco, CA
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