TBT (Throw Back Thursday) is a story series that highlights articles from past Foghorn issues, which are easily viewable online through Gleeson Library’s digital collection of the newspaper. This week, we bring you the story of how USF came to acquire the land now simply known as Lone Mountain, but was once referred to as the San Francisco College for Women, and later on Lone Mountain College. Originally published on Feb. 24, 1978.
Claiming that “such an opportunity will never again happen in San Francisco,” USF President John LoSchiavo SJ, in the semesterly State of the University message last Thursday, explained to his administrators and faculty why the University is dead set on purchasing Lone Mountain College.
Using the traditional speech as a springboard to launch his views about the acquisition, Fr. LoSchiavo said that the Lone Mountain deal was too good to turn down and is certain that with the added space the University could do the things its always wanted to but couldn’t because of limited space.
Indeed, the purchase price of $5.8 million is an attractive amount to pay for the 24-acre campus – including 200,00 square feet of classrooms, offices, dining and living facilities, a chapel, all the furniture and equipment, plus the 200,000 volume library – all with a replacement value on today’s market of $20 million.
Fr. Lo Schiavo said the $5.8 million price tag as the result of adding up all of Lone Mountain’s liabilities and debts. “They (the college) won’t make a profit on the sale,” he said.
When Fr. LoSchiavo does sign on the dotted line, and purchases Lone Mountain College, USF will be receiving much more than 24 acres of wooded land. The 47-year-old campus’ heritage ranges back to 1817.
The beautiful San Francisco landmark was founded by a Catholic religious order of women, the Religious of the Sacred Heart.
A young French woman, Madelaine Sophie Barat, foundress of the order in the 1800’s, was rigorously educated by her brother in the classic tradition that was usually preserved for young men. Early on, she recognized that women’s roles in effecting social change were becoming increasingly important, and thus decided to elect education as the order’s principal work. Her wish was to provide a strong liberal education for women in order to prepare them for their new roles.
The Sisters of the Sacred Hear came to the United States in 1817, and to Menlo Park, California, in 1898. In this small city, an academy was founded which provided an education for students from preschool through second year college. In 1921, a college charter was obtained for the academy, and in 1930, the College moved to Lone Mountain in San Francisco, as the San Francisco College for Women.
Before construction on the actual building began, a wooden cross, which for many year could be seen by travelers entering the Golden Gate, had to be taken down and the tip of the mountain leveled off about thirty feet.
The early sisters who ran the College lived in great poverty, even though the building thy resided in was an elegant, lonely place. Many nuns did not have bedrooms to sleep in, but rather put out portable beds in the classrooms during the late hours.
The students also, were crowded, yet despite this difficulty beginning, the school flourished. Within a few years, the women’s college developed a reputation for high academic standards, and a serious approach to a standard liberal arts curriculum.
In 1969, the school became coeducational and the name was changed from the San Francisco College for Women to Lone Mountain College. It continued to be run by the Sisters until last year when it began to disaffiliate itself from the religious order. However, the property, including the beautiful tower that can be seen from all over the city, is still owned by the order.