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Holy Name College

Original Name: Holy Name College
Year Of Construction: 1929
Address: 1400 Shepherd Street, NE Washington, DC 20017
Architect(s): Chester Oakley
Current Status: Howard University Divinity School
Original Use: Franciscan Seminary

Benjamin E. Mays Hall was constructed in 1929 and designed by architect Chester Oakley. Originally a Franciscan seminary, the building was called Holy Name College. It is an amazing structure and breathtaking in its detail. The building is constructed of two tones of beige brickwork with fabulous geometric designs throughout, ornate terra cotta details over arched windows, inset intricate bronze plaques with floral details, mosaic figures recessed and sheltered by magnificent head details. Latin script in terra cotta is carved just below the flat roof and dark red sandstone linear details abound. The building is described on Howard University’s School of Divinity website which purchased the property in 1985: “The building is adorned along the North and West facades with a series of pier buttresses, reminiscent of the flying buttresses that accompany Europe’s gothic cathedrals. Resting atop each pier buttress is the likeness of an influential scholar or theologian. ….Approaching the main doors, the eye may also be drawn to an archway entrance that is reminiscent of the triumphant gateways of early roman architecture.” Significant renovations were made to the building in order to accommodate the School’s needs including conversion of the central courtyard into a two-story library with a rooftop promenade. A peek into the main entrance lobby shows lovely tile work in ochre and darker red tones and doorways surrounded by geometric metalwork.