The Jesuit priests of Marquette University have a new place to call home, thanks to the generosity of some long standing supporters of the university.
The residence, a 40,000-square foot, five-story building known as the “Jes Res” by the Marquette community is located between the Alumni Memorial Union and Schroeder Hall in the 1400 block of W. Wells St.
The former residence in the 1400 block of W. Wisconsin Avenue was built in 1916 as the Stratford Arms Hotel. In 1973, the Marquette Jesuits took over the property, but in recent years have had to deal with major maintenance issues. Plumbing problems and infrastructure deterioration caused the university to look at building a residence.
Designed by Kubala Washatko Architects and built by KBS Construction, the residence offers a simple, modern and comfortable way for the priests to live.
Just off of the lobby on the first floor is the Donald J. Schneider Chapel. A round rose window fills the room with light and a statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder and first general superior of the Society of Jesus, sits in the corner. The chapel is not yet complete, as the Jesuits are contemplating the addition of stained glass to the rose window and other aesthetic concepts.
Also on the first floor are communal spaces, including the dining room, living room, a few small gathering rooms and a conference room. Artwork displayed on the walls of the first floor showcases photography of cathedrals and churches.
The second floor has a nurse’s office, a theater room with a large screen television, and a recreation room.
There are 25 resident rooms plus five guest rooms, all with private baths. The guest rooms are used for travelling Jesuits as well as for friends and family. There are two private chapels on the floors with resident rooms.
The Daniel and Betty Merkel library is on the fifth floor; it is adjacent to a terrace that overlooks the south side of the campus.
Outside the residence is a garden with a small water feature and a pergola.
Former university president, Jesuit Fr. Robert A. Wild, gave tours of the facility on Oct. 30 — the day after the priests moved into it.
“We are extremely grateful to the donors. This building was entirely funded when we put the first shovel in the ground,” said Fr. Wild.
Private donors contributed $15 million, which was used to build the $9 million residence and for razing the former residence.
An anonymous donor gave $10 million to inaugurate the project. That was followed by $5 million from the Ray and Kay Eckstein charitable trust, as well as numerous other donations.
While there are 33 Jesuits in the Marquette University community, only 25 will be housed in the residence. Five Jesuits live in residence halls and three live in the rectory of Gesu.
The building is strategically located to let the Marquette community know the Jesuits remain an integral part of the faith formation and education process.
“Jesuits have visibility and accessibility at the location,” said Fr. Wild.
Situated close to the center of campus, the residence will launch future enhancements to this area of campus.
“We are working on the plan to beautify this area as a north-south corridor of campus,” said Lora Strigenz, chief university planner and architect, adding there is a need for facilities to house “student life and student experience” space. The site of the former Jesuit residence, when demolished, may be used for that.
Fr. Wild said his favorite part is the chapel, but he is “quite pleased with the recreation space. Physically, this is a much nicer building. It is well-designed.”