Fordham, a History of the Jesuit University of New York: 1841-2003

By Thomas J. Shelley | Go to book overview

6
NEW YORK CITY’S OTHER
JESUIT COLLEGE

Fifty Cents and a New College

In 1847, only a year after their arrival at Rose Hill, the Jesuits opened a second school, in the heart of Manhattan. Four years earlier Bishop Hughes had specifically forbidden the Jesuits to do this, because he feared that a second school would threaten the success of St. John’s College, Rose Hill, which at that time was still a diocesan college. Now, however, he urged the Jesuits to establish a city school and even offered them the Church of St. Andrew on Duane Street in the poverty-stricken Sixth Ward (the “Bloody Auld Sixth”), not far from the notorious Five Points. Father Boulanger prudently declined the bishop’s offer of the parish and appointed Father John Larkin to take charge of the project.1

According to Larkin’s often-told tale (which he did not tell under oath), he left Rose Hill in July 1847 immediately after the close of the school year with fifty cents in his pocket. He spent twenty-five cents for his railroad ticket from Fordham to New York City, paid another twenty cents for a carriage to transport his trunk to the residence of a friend, and was left with five cents in his pocket to establish a Jesuit church and college in the metropolis. He was befriended by Father Annet Lafont, the pastor of the French church of St. Vincent de Paul, which was then located on Canal Street. Shortly thereafter a nearby Protestant church on Elizabeth Street just north of Walker Street became available after the congregation split into two antagonistic factions. The asking price was $18,000, with $5,000 to be paid in cash.

With the help of several wealthy New York Catholics, including Bishop McCloskey’s brother-in-law, Larkin was able to raise the $5,000 and took out a mortgage on the rest. He renamed it the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus. He also rented a small house at 180 Walker Street adjacent to church to serve as a residence for the Jesuit community. When Michael Nash ar-

1. Gilbert J. Garraghan, S.J., “Fordham’s Jesuit Beginnings,” Thought 16 (March 1941): 26; “An Historical Sketch of the Mission of New York and Canada,” WL 4 (1875): 135.

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