We're continuing to celebrate 136 years of faithful service to the people of the
Diocese of Scranton and beyond by sharing our favorite throwback photos and historical memories. Today, we're featuring an exterior photo of the Cathedral, the Rectory, St. Thomas College, and the Cathedral Convent.
Bishop William O'Hara, D.D., the first Bishop of Scranton was also the first bishop to undertake structural renovations to the church. Having completed them in 1883, Bishop O'Hara, himself a teacher and former rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia returned to his early desire to establish an institution of higher learning to educate Catholic young men.
From this vision came St. Thomas College, now the University of Scranton. The cornerstone was laid on August 12, 1888, on Wyoming Avenue next to the Cathedral rectory. By 1891, the construction process was underway and eventually resulted in a red brick, three-story building named College Hall that became affectionately known as "Old Main."
Over the years, St. Thomas College saw graduates enter the professional and business life of the local community. It also fostered vocations for the local Church, producing twelve seminarians out of sixty-two individuals in the first graduating class.
St. Thomas College remained on Wyoming Avenue until 1947. In 1940, Worthington Scranton donated his 5.4-acre estate, just blocks from the Cathedral, to the diocese, in trust for the educational institution, newly named the University of Scranton. In June of 1964, the University gave the deed to the Wyoming Avenue property on which Old Main stood to the Cathedral Parish, and in 1968 the 80-year-old building was razed. The adjacent LaSalle Hall, the former residence of the Jesuits, was then renovated to serve as the Cathedral Convent.
In 2003, the Cathedral Prayer Garden was commissioned to be designed and constructed in the space formerly occupied by St. Thomas College.