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Fordham University History: Early History - St. John's College

Everything you ever wanted to know about its history, people, places ... and maybe even a few things you didn't.

A Brief History

In 1839 Archbishop John Hughes purchased 106 acres at Rose Hill in the Bronx with the intention of building a seminary and college.  The Rose Hill Manor house stood where the present Collins Auditorium is and Archbishop Hughes' brother in law Rodrigue built himself a home that still stands on the campus and is used as a student run coffee house. On June 24, 1841 the college opened with 6 students comprising the first class.

In 1846 St. John’s College was sold to the Jesuits. Jesuit priests from St. Mary’s College in Kentucky were recruited as professors and prefects. After the addition of a law school and medical school in 1907 the college gained university status. Because there was already a St. Johns University in Queens, the name was changed to Fordham University, reflecting the area in which it was established.

St. John's College - Fordham University


St. John's College becomes Fordham University 

A Timeline

For a complete timeline, click the link below. 

1839 - Archbishop Hughes purchases 106 acres of land for $30,000

1840 - William Rodrigue builds a family home on the property

1841 - St. Johns College opens its doors

1845 - University Church is built

1846 - St. John's is deeded to the Jesuits for $40,000

1854 - Debating Society established at the college

1855 - First theatrical productions put on

1859 - First official Baseball game

1860 - Seminary building  sold to the Jesuits for $45,000 & Alumni Society is founded

1874 - School color changed from Magenta to Maroon

1883 - An official school Football team is organized

1885 - A Military Cadet Batallion is established 

1902 - John Ignatius Coveney writes "The Ram" which becomes the University's fight song & First intercollegiate Basketball game

1907 - The name officially changes to Fordham University & Fordham University Press is created

St. Johns Historical Photographs