This vintage postcard shows Duquesne University in 1933 along the bluff above the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh. The main building in the foreground is known as “Old Main.”
Duquesne University is run by the Spiritan order of priests who were originally known as Holy Ghost Fathers. They founded the university with the mission “serving God by serving students.” The intent and the mission behind the work of building this school was to transform generations of students by providing an education for the mind, heart and spirit. They were particularly interested in educating the children of immigrants so that they could rise above poverty and partake of the opportunities available here in the United States for those willing to learn and work.
Originally the Pittsburgh Catholic College, by 1882 it was successful and outgrowing its site. The Spiritans were then searching for a permanent location. The current site was secured from a former private hospital and adjacent property owned by Dr. A.G. Walter on Boyd’s Hill, a bluff overlooking the Monongahela River.
The initial campus and Old Main were designed by architect William Kaufman using a distinctive Victorian Medievalist style
that featured horizontal bands of stone. The bricks for the buildings were actually handmade by the Spiritan brothers from the clay that was blasted away for the construction site of the university.
The school was granted university status on March 30, 1911 and named Duquesne University of the Holy Ghost on May 27, 1911. It is the first Catholic university in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Duquesne has carried the vision and the legacy of the Spiritans for five generations of students by welcoming all and excluding none; that education is the key to liberation for the children of Pittsburgh’s immigrants. It is also one of the first universities to admit women and minorities.