Our Legacy, Roots, and Home
In 1924, Catherine Donohoe contributed $40,000 to build the Donohoe Infirmary in honor of her parents, James and Rose Donohoe. James and Rose were married in 1850 and had five children - James, Henry, Mary, Frederick, and Catherine. The youngest son, Fredrick, was sent to Santa Clara College in 1877. Over the next 25 years, the Donohoes were generous benefactors to the Santa Clara community and the University. Catherine continued her parents’ legacy of charity and in 1924, donated three deeds to help build the campus infirmary.
The Donohoe Infirmary contained an apartment for the attending physician, office of the infirmarian, an apothecary’s shop and dispensary, a reception room, and other smaller offices on the first floor. The second and third floor were devoted to the sick and convalescent; with a chapel, sunbaths, and a rooftop garden. Accommodations were provided for 30 patients and, should extraordinary needs arise, the lofty attic could be fitted as a general ward. The Donohoe Infirmary remained open for the next 50 years until the University began to out grow the space.
In 1974, Louis I. Bannan, S.J., assistant to the president for alumni affairs, wrote a letter to Fr. Donald Flickinger, executive assistant to University president, Thomas Terry, S.J., proposing the Donohoe Infirmary become the new home of the Alumni Association. Fr. Bannan wrote, “The alumni, students, and all our public should know that we are not a second rate agency. Obviously, this is a great factor to enhance loyalty and communications, as well as income. This is clearly a great investment in the future."
Although competition for the building was fierce, Fr. Bannan prevailed. In 1975, the Alumni Association moved into the first floor of Donohoe. The kitchen, conference room, and second floor were remodeled in 1978, thanks largely to contributions from alumni and the Donohoe Alumni House Renovation Committee (full list of members). Until 2009, the second floor served as offices for other various University departments. The Alumni Gardens behind the building was completed as a special project of William J. Rewak, S.J., who served as president of the University from 1976 to 1988.
A Home of Our Own
In 2009, Paul Locatelli, S.J. '60 approved renovation plans with the goal of improving building safety and creating a dedicated Alumni Center. Devcon Construction, owned by Gary Filizetti ’67, began the remodel of the Alumni House in July 2010.
In addition to the seismic retrofit, the building now has easy handicap access, a working elevator, a first floor restroom, a “living room” for meeting and greeting, a large board room for gatherings and events, and expanded office space. The building also received "gold" status from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for the building's significant improvements in energy efficiency.
When renovations were completed in January 2011, a bit of alumni history was preserved in the structure. On Oct. 15, 2010, a time capsule was buried in the concrete ramp at the back of the building. Click here for more information on the items included in the capsule.
Since 1975, the Donohoe Alumni House has provided a place for past and present Broncos to renew friendships, relive fond memories, and become acquainted with new campus developments. Our hope is that the Donohoe building will always serve as a "home away from home" for all Santa Clara alumni.