Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


St. Joseph's Oratory

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Institution Name: St. Bonaventure University
Original/Historic Place Name: St. Joseph's Oratory
Location on Campus:
Date(s) of Construction:
ca. 1927original construction Oakley, Chester
Designer: Chester Oakley
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Romanesque revival, Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture
Narrative: see below
References: see below
ca. 1927-present (2006)other (devotional space)

This small circular chapel-like building was constructed in about 1927 near the center of the campus at that time. It is said to be inspired by a dominical building called the Tempietto of Bramante in Rome. It contains a single room twelve feet in diameter, and is used as a devotional space. The designer was the noted Buffalo architect, Chester Oakley, who designed the building in the ornate brick and tile style of the surrounding campus buildings (It is actually the first constructed of five such buildings). Together with these, it creates a unique setting of Florentine architecture, linking the campus to the Italy of St. Francis and St. Bonaventure. Unique ornamentation includes a terra cotta tympanum above the entrance showing St. Joseph surrounded by angels, and curved oaken front doors.


"The Best of Times, the Worst of Times." Bona Venture, October 29, 1993. St. Bonaventure University, Bonaventure, NY.

"Chapel of Devotion to St. Joseph." Olean (NY) Times Herald, November 9, 1974, 2.

Eaton, Betty. "Chester Oakley: His Work on the St. Bonaventure University Campus." Term paper. Spring 1983. Archives, St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, NY.

Herscher, Irenaeus, attr. "Jewels in Our Crown: Welcome to the St. Bonaventure University Campus." Archives, St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, NY.

Kinney, Kathleen. "St. Joseph Oratory Withstands 60 Years of University History." Bona Venture, October 2, 1987. St. Bonaventure University, Bonaventure, NY.

LeStrange, William J. "St. Joseph's Shrine." The Laurel 29 (1927): 78-9.

Waryncia, Louis. "Shrines to St. Bonaventure." Typescript. 1978. Archives, St. Bonaventure College, St. Bonaventure, NY.


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Last update: November 2006