St. Joe’s buys cardinal’s mansion for $10 million

Posted: September 08, 2012

Saint Joseph's University announced today that it will buy the cardinal's mansion from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for $10 million.

The residence, on 8.9 acres on City Avenue, has served as residence for the archbishops of Philadelphia since the 1930s, when it was acquired by Cardinal Dennis Dougherty for $115,000.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, who assumed leadership of the archdiocese one year ago, announced in January that he was putting the 16-room, 13,000-square-foot stone house up for sale. In June, he reported the archdiocese faced a $17.5 million operating debt.

He has also put the retired priests' summer home in Ventnor on the market, with an estimated sale value of $6 million.

The Rev. C. Kevin Gillespie, president of St. Joseph's, said the university had no immediate plans for the property but might use it temporarily for administrative offices. He also said it would be "integral to the university's long-term strategic planning."

Funding for the purchase will come from "donor support and internal resources," according to the university.

The grounds, which sweep from City Avenue to Overbrook Avenue and flank the one-block Cardinal Avenue, are directly adjacent to the university's 48-acre campus.

A Franciscan-Capuchin friar, Chaput has said he will occupy an apartment at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood formerly occupied by the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua after his retirement in 2003.

In 1999, when he was Denver's archbishop, Chaput sold his predecessor's villa and moved into the diocesan seminary.

Surrounded by a tall, iron fence, the dwelling once known as The Terraces has been home to Philadelphia's archbishops since 1935. The property includes a gardener's cottage, and a six-car garage. During Cardinal John Krol's tenure in the 1970s and '80s, it also featured a par-3 golf hole and putting green.

Among its visitors have been Pope John Paul II in 1979, and Cardinal Eugene Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, in 1936.

The property is entered through a gate on Cardinal Avenue - the former 57th Street - just south of St. Joseph's University. Its only contiguous neighbor is a convent of cloistered nuns.

In 2004, the Archdiocese of Boston sold its cardinal's mansion and 44 surrounding acres to Boston College for $99 million to help pay claims to victims of clergy sex abuse.


Contact staff writer David O'Reilly at 610-313-8111 or doreilly@phillynews.com.

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