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Unearthing The History Of The O'Connell House

For The Heights

Published: Monday, February 18, 2013

Updated: Monday, February 18, 2013 01:02

Living in the O’Connell House, Sandonato has her own room for the first time in her life, “But it’s not lonely,” she says, “there are always people coming in and out, and the five of us who live here, we are kind of like a little family.” When asked if her room has large wooden furniture, maybe a queen bed, she laughs, “No, our furniture is the same as in the BC dorms. But I do have high ceilings, cool light fixtures, and a mantle that is left from where a fireplace once was.” She also has AC, new carpeting, her own shower, and full-time access to the O’Connell House’s amenities, including a new student printer. When asked about her favorite part of her room, Sandonato answers, “My walk-in closet, definitely.” Not only is her closet a walk-in, but the walls are covered in quotes from managers who lived in her room in the past. She does not yet know what she is going to write at the end of the year, but her favorite message on the wall, left by K.P. in 1997, is “You never really leave a place you love.” 

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Bob Sutherby, '84
Tue Feb 19 2013 22:51
This was a very well written article. The description of O'Connell House brought me back literally 30 years, when I was one of five student managers living there. It was nice to hear that the names of us who served the house are still remembered on a displayed plaque because the many wonderful, uniquely O'Connell, experiences that I enjoyed are forever memorized in my heart. It is reassuring to learn that our former home continues to be everyone's house whose resources continue to expand with the times, maximizing its benefits to the students and appreciative visitors. I share the sentiment expressed in the quote from former manager K.P., '97 and am delighted that this shared feeling of O'Connell was marked on the wall by a departing manager so many years after the time when I served there. It's a great quote. Thanks to contributor Kathleen Fahy for finishing the article with it! Given that the rule was that you had to first "pay your dues" before writing your quote along with your name somewhere in your room before leaving it for good, it is evident that K.P. understood and appreciated the importance of O'Connell House very well. My sense is that contributor Kathleen understands and appreciates it, too. Indeed, O'Connell House is a place that I've never really left. Perhaps, it's time for another reunion of all former managers at the House (and joined by Kathleen Fahy!) where we can share countless stories and very fond memories of experiences that helped make "the House" the special home that it continues to be. It would make for a great sequel to your article, Kathleen! In the meantime, I hope to "B.C.'ing" O'Connell House soon to walk down one of the most memorable of Memory Lanes.
Dick Sullivan
Mon Feb 18 2013 10:33
In the 1960s and early '70s, O'Connell w a combination dorm for the lucky few who were able to live there and an upper campus social center once featuring a "Rathskeller" (bar) for "students over age 21", a coffee house featuring "performance accommodations" for musicians,singers, and poets et al. It also was home to the "Night Office", manned by work study students, which was then Dean of Students Ed Hanrahan S.J.'s weekend working hub. It was a great place to leave messages, meet up and head from out with friends, and or find out what was going on
Mon Feb 18 2013 09:42
I lived in O'Connell House in 1967-68, back in the servants quarters on the second floor. It was one of the few single rooms on campus. That year there were about 25 student O'Connell House residents and several Jesuits. They had the big color tv which we sometimes picked a lock to use. The Liggetts were the founders of Rexall Drugs, a sort of Walgreens of its day. They were a very wealthy family. Rene Durand '69 and his friends outfitted BC's first Coffee House, Middle Earth, at the west end of the House in that same period.

Jim Malone A&S '69

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