December 2008

Question:

Dear Abbot Pennings,

Who was Francis Boyle? How did Boyle Hall come to be named after him?

Libby Hauser ’08

Answer:

Your question reminds me of one of the most exciting times in the history of St. Norbert College, the construction of Boyle Hall.

Francis Boyle was a student of mine from Fond du Lac. It was the year 1912 when he enrolled at our fine institution. His father, Henry Boyle, an open-handed philanthropist and prominent businessman, recognized the need for a new building for our excellent students. At the time, Main Hall housed all college activity.

Fr. Francis Van Dyke dug the first shovel of earth for the new hall in 1915. In September 1916 the cornerstone was laid, with a blessing from Bishop Paul Rhode. It was Francis Boyle himself who laid the stone. The building was completed in the summer of 1917, and Francis’ father Henry was present for the celebrations, although in feeble health.

The new hall, this generous gift of Henry Boyle, was the first building on our beautiful campus to be constructed with donated dollars. It was named after Henry’s son, Francis, in gratitude for his education at St. Norbert College. Today, the building still houses several classrooms and faculty offices.

Responses to “Ask the Abbot” questions are penned by St. Norbert College staff in the name of Abbot Bernard Pennings, O.Praem., who founded St. Norbert College in 1898.