Students complete historical markers project for Sacred Heart Hall

Jul 11, 2023
A "Jets Golf" historical marker shares that the space currently used for golf practices was once the bustling Campus Activities Center.
A "Jets Golf" historical marker shares that the space currently used for golf practices was once the bustling Campus Activities Center.

Three Newman students recently completed a historical marker project that shares the century-old Sacred Heart Hall’s past with those of the present and future.

A hefty history: From idea to fruition

The beloved Sacred Heart Hall building, which is 11 years older than the university itself, has served as the place for many memories made over the years.

Sister Therese Wetta, ASC, director of mission effectiveness, wanted to celebrate the centennial of Sacred Heart in a way that the average visitor could engage with. So she turned to Cheryl Golden, professor of history and director of international studies, and asked for help identifying history majors who could contribute to an archives project. Wetta then secured a grant from the Gerber Institute to support student workers and the materials needed.

"Administrative Computing" and "Mail and Copy" historical markers
Administrative Computing and Mail and Copy historical markers

“After meeting with Shirley Rueb (archives volunteer), Steve Hamersky (director of Dugan Library) and two history majors, Katy Messenger and Quinton Sullivan, we decided on a concept,” Golden explained. “We want to celebrate the people of Sacred Heart Hall who keep the university moving forward through numerous changes and challenges.”

Utilizing the Newman archives, campus historians and various research materials, Rueb diligently worked with the students for any history she could find regarding Sacred Heart Hall. 

Once the research was complete, Golden, Sullivan and Messenger finessed the written descriptions of each of the 12 featured areas and handed off the elements to the University Relations department to design and print the tangible markers.

Since students conducted the majority of the research, senior graphic designer Matthew Miller found it fitting to assign the graphic design project to another student — sophomore Rebekah Strickbine. She eagerly used the elements to create the historical markers. Strickbine even incorporated the golden floor pattern into each of the 12 historical markers, a nod to the building’s many recognizable treasures.

The designs were printed on 18” by 24” UltraBoard Foam Core. Four markers are located on each floor of the building.

"Jets Golf" and "Southwest First Floor" historical markers
Jets Golf and Southwest First Floor historical markers

Newman students’ creative contributions

Student Katy Messenger, who contributed to the research portion of the project during the fall 2022 semester, said she learned “so much about Sacred Heart Hall” throughout the process.

She explained that, in its history, Sacred Heart Hall has been more than “just an administration and classroom building.”

“The building has gone through many changes and has seen generations of people, both students and staff, come and go,” Messenger said.

Quinton Sullivan, a senior history major, conducted research in the archives and around campus as part of his cooperative education opportunity in fall 2022.

He said, “I figured, what better way to complete my history degree here at Newman than by researching and uncovering the history of the oldest building on campus?”

"Welcome Center" and "St. John's Chapel" historical markers
Welcome Center and St. John’s Chapel historical markers

Sifting through photos and compiling messages for each historical marker gave Sullivan a sense of pride in his school’s history that he hopes to share with others.

“Although we don’t have specific names on each of the historical markers, just knowing what previous staff and students were using these areas in the building might remind us that although we live in the present, we will ultimately also become a part of the rich history of Sacred Heart Hall,” he said. 

Working on the historical markers as a graphic design student meant a great deal to Strickbine.

“Recognizing how long this building has been here and how much history the place has was really special, and I was honored to be able to help others remember that as well,” she said.

"These Floors" and "Administrative Processing" historical markers
These Floors and Administrative Processing historical markers

Echoing Messenger’s and Sullivan’s sentiments, Strickbine hopes the project reminds passersby that they, too, are a part of the ever-growing history of Newman.

“The things we do during our time at Newman matter and will become a part of the school’s history — that maybe a hundred years from now, people will be making historical markers about our lives and contributions to the school,” Strickbine added.

Now on display

During the All-Alumni Reunion Weekend June 23-25 on campus, many guests walked down memory lane as they read from the historical markers. By showcasing the building’s “then” versus “now” multi-purposes, it’s the students’ hope that they can build more awareness of the university’s history.

“Hopefully we can better appreciate all the people who have come before us to make it what it is, and perhaps also we in the present can work to preserve the legacy of Sacred Heart Hall so it can continue to be enjoyed by both staff and students for years to come,” Messenger said.

"For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "Resources" historical markers
For Whom the Bell Tolls and Resources historical markers

The first floor displays the following historical markers: Administrative Computing (formerly biology lab, campus bookstore and switchboard), Mail and Copy (former dining hall), Jets Golf (formerly the Campus Activities Center) and the southwest first-floor area (previously a dining area, study hall and present-day living room area).

The second floor shows off markers for the Welcome Center (formerly Registrar), St. John’s Chapel, admissions processing and one for the iconic floors (unchanged since the building was built).

Finally, the third-floor markers feature one for Sister Dolores Strunk, ASC, the Sacred Heart Hall classrooms (once used as dorms and continued use as classrooms and study spaces) and another for resource areas (previously the university’s first library and present-day Human Resources and Runway Learning Center). The final historical marker was made to commemorate the many ghost stories collected over the years from passersby of Sacred Heart Hall.

"Sacred Heart Hall Classrooms" and "Ghost Stories" historical markers
Sacred Heart Hall Classrooms and Ghost Stories historical markers

Celebrating the heart and soul of Newman University

The Sacred Heart Hall building is more than just a structure; it has served as a home and constant presence throughout every stage of Newman University’s history. Continue reading about its unique history.