June 8, 1911 saw the groundbreaking for Christie Hall, at a ceremony attended by Portland archbishop Alexander Christie, the building’s namesake, who turned the first spadeful of earth himself.
When the property on which the University stands was purchased in 1901 from the University Land Company, the terms called for the construction of “a major building” within ten years. The Columbia Colosseum athletic fieldhouse was built in 1903, but Christie Hall is the second-oldest building on campus, since the Colosseum collapsed during a storm in 1927.
The school catalogue described Christie as “a model school dormitory,” designed in Tudor-style brick with three floors and a full basement, with 122 private rooms. “Each room was lighted, ventilated, heated by steam, and contained a washbasin with hot and cold running water,” according to Jim Covert’s A Point of Pride. The University library was moved from West Hall to the Christie basement that year; the “temporary” basis of that move lasted until the Clark Library was built in 1958. The basement also included two bowling alleys, a billiard room, and a smoking room. Christie Hall’s chapel was located where it is today, and has served for the past 107 years as a refuge for quiet prayer and reflection.
Christie Hall has served a number of functions over the decades. Many of the legendary Holy Cross priests and brothers made their homes there, including Frs. John and Con Hooyboer, Fr. John Delaunay, and many others whose open-door policies led students to seek their counsel at all hours. Faculty members kept offices in Christie Hall rooms, especially before the construction of Buckley Center in the late 1960s, and Christie was also home to the University’s credit union, administered faithfully and meticulously by business professor Russell Braden and his wife Kay until the early 1980s.