Fontaine Hall was named
after Brother Paul Ambrose Fontaine, a long-time Dean and
then president of Marist College. Brother Nilus Donnelly supervised
a volunteer army of Marist Brothers who worked on building
the college during the summer months. College student brothers
also worked on the project during the fall and spring semesters,
which were lengthened by one or two weeks to allow small teams
to help Brother Nilus all year.
During the construction
of Fontaine Hall, on a blistering hot summer's day, two groups
of student brothers were applying perma-stone to opposite
sides of Fontaine. A hose used to wet the cement was accidentally
held so that the water arched over the roof sprinkling the
other group of brothers. Declarations of war were issued.
Both armies met on Fontaine's roof with water hoses and buckets
of water. Twenty minutes later the liquid skirmish was over.
Both sides returned to work, happy in victory, but also much
wetter and cooler.
The original Fontaine
Hall was attached to the chapel by a passageway. Long laminated
beams radiating out from a single pillar supported the wooden
ceiling, mirroring the type of construction used in the chapel.
An award-winning curtain of glass allowed for panoramic views
of the Hudson River.
The main floor housed
a circular study hall with an open space in the center. A
room on the north side housed "Our Lady's Library."
This collection of books relating to the Blessed Virgin was
organized by Brother Cyril Robert, the college librarian.
It was absorbed into the main collection when the library
was moved to Donnelly. In the northwest corner was a visitor's
suite with office, dining room, bedroom and balcony. It was
often used for small group meetings.
The lower floor contained
a dining room and kitchen which served meals to the faculty
and 120 student brothers. Dominating the staircase connecting
the study hall and dining room was a unique crucifix. The
Christ figure's wrists were nailed instead of the palms of
His hands. This scientifically correct approach reflected
the Marist Brothers' scholasticism and search for the truth.
In 1958 an addition
to Fontaine Hall was constructed because St. Ann's Hermitage
was considered unsafe. This steel frame addition of four stories
became the new dormitory for the student brothers. When the
Benoit and Gregory houses were built, this addition to Fontaine
Hall was modified to accommodate the offices of the Humanities
Hall and its addition had to be demolished to make room for
the construction of the Cannavino Library.