Donnelly Hall was built by Brother Nilus Vincent with the help of an army of volunteer Marist Brothers. For three summers, these Marist Brothers laid aside their teaching duties and traveled to the Marist College campus where they worked, slept and worked some more.
Brother Nilus who designed and supervised the construction of Donnelly personally operated the bulldozer, crane and other heavy construction equipment. His first task was to survey the property and then to level the mound of earth that existed where Donnelly now stands. Donnelly Hall is named for Brother Nilus Vincent Donnelly.
After the blessing of the site by Cardinal Spellman in 1958, the Marist Brothers manually dug the holes for the foundation pillars. They had to overcome many obstacles, one of which was the water seepage from an underground stream into the foundation holes. This water had to be pumped out and directed away from the work site. Brother Nilus' foreman, Brother Edward "Eddie Mike" Michael seemed to be everywhere directing the day's work activities.
Each day a discarded hearse was used to transport refreshments to the thirsty working brothers. A cluster of nearby trees provided them with a rest break during the hot, humid, summer days.
Slowly the foundation and concrete walls were poured. The prefabricated wooden roof beams weighing several tons each were lifted into place by Brother Nilus' crane and secured by the brothers. Donnelly began to take shape.