Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mt. Manresa

In our continuing pictorial documentation of Staten Island's Catholic institutions, today we'll look at Mt. Manresa Jesuit retreat house. I've previously written about some of the scandalous activities that go on at this place, but today I'm only dealing with images and history.

In 1911 the Jesuits purchased one of Staten Island's grand estates for the purpose of establishing a lay retreat center, as had become popular in Europe. In addition to the original 20-bedroom mansion, the Jesuits constructed several new buildings through the years. In 1964, the old house was knocked down and replaced with a modern conference center/office building/dining hall. A more complete history can be found here. The center continues to host a wide range of retreats and public programs. My class went there for a retreat in high school and I remember being very impressed by the facilities. I would not describe them as opulent, but to me the dark wood furniture, the well-stocked library, the soft arm chairs and the tasteful, serious decor was the last word in comfort, such as you would find in rectories, traditional funeral homes or the club room of a Victorian gentleman. If a man was going to give his life to the Church, I thought, this was the way he deserved to live. Anyway, here are some pictures.

The original mansion:

Its dining room:

The entrance:

The water tower, dating from the 1800s:

Shealy Hall, I believe:

Stairway up the hilltop...

...which has a great view of the Manhattan skyline

Entrance to the Sacred Heart grotto:

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