|May 28, 1923||Crane Hall dedicated|
|Christmas Night, 1943||First Mass in the wooden chapel|
|May 1944||Chapel dedicated by Bishop Hurley|
|March 1958||Buildings demolished for construction|
|December 13, 1959||Dedicated new (existing) building|
Father John F. Conoley, pastor of St.Patrick’s, was the first to envision a student center and residence hall for the young Catholic men who attended the University of Florida in Gainesville. He enlisted the aid of Mrs. Mary A. Crane of New YorkCity, who donated $40,000.00 for the purpose. Ground was broken in 1922 and Crane Hall wasdedicated on May 28, 1923, by Bishop Patrick Barry of St. Augustine.
The new building was a permanent brick structure and the chapel had a seating capacity of fifty people. At that time there were thirty Catholic students at the university. The hall was monitored by the pastors from St. Patrick’s and Father Conoley was succeeded in turn by the following: Father Patrick E. Nolan (1924-1926), Father Patrick J. Halligan (1926-1927), Father Leo Lehmann (1927) and Father John V. O’Sullivan (1928).
In 1928, Father Jeremiah P. O’Mahoney became the first resident chaplain at the hall. It was not anticipated that a large number of Catholics would attend the university and therefore the hall was of small size. The social room was divided in 1928 and a small office was made adjoining it.
In 1943, a temporary wooden chapel was built from two frame houses by Father O’Mahoney. The first Mass was offered in the new chapel on Christmas night, 1943. It was dedicated by Bishop Joseph P. Hurley in May 1944, and named in honor of St. Thomas Aquinas. In 1948, Father Charles W. Spellman became chaplain and he was succeeded in turn by Fathers Joseph O’Shea (1953-1954) and David Cronin (1954-1955).
In 1955, Father Neil A. Sager became chaplain and plans for a new Student Center were completed under his direction. In March 1958, the entire old complex was destroyed to make room for the new building which was dedicated on December 13, 1959. The chapel was named in honor of St. Augustine. Adjoining the chapel are a large meeting hall, a library, offices, a kitchen, and a residence for priests. The building is concrete block with Tennessee sandstone facing. The interior of the chapel is graced by laminated wooden arches. It seats 925 people.
There are now 3,200 Catholic students at the University. A Newman Club has been in operation at the Student Center for many years with the future University of Florida President Stephen C. O’Connell serving as an active member, as well as as corresponding secretary and treasurer during the 1930′s.
Father John Francis Conoley, 1919-1924
Father Patrick E. Nolan, 1924-1926
Father Patrick J. Halligan, 1926-1927
Father Leo Lehmann, 1927-1928
Father Jeremiah P. O’Mahoney, 1928-1948
Father Charles W. Spellman, 1948-1953
Father Joseph O’Shea, 1953-1954
Father David Cronin, 1954-1955
Father Neil A. Sager, 1955-1960
Father Thomas R. Gross, 1956-?