St. Anthony’s Seminary – Up Close, But Not Too Personal

In 1926, Ross Montgomery designed the chapel and belfry at Saint Anthony’s Seminary, and by doing so he also created a four-sided courtyard perfect for contemplation, reflection and solitude. Since these inner spaces are often considered luxuries, particularly in an area where real estate is expensive, they are often rejected as an option during the design phase. But Montgomery had an extremely large site to work with, and from a practical point of view, he knew that placing a new building next to previous construction, rather than remodeling the early work, and incorporating the new into the old was going to be easier, cheaper and faster.

The tower we see here extends out of the courtyard and dominates the entire composition. Designed during the period when highly decorated Spanish Colonial Revival work was exalted, this tower offers detail that is rarely, if ever found in today’s world where design sensibilities or economic realities do not go to the ornate. Constructed shortly after the 1925 earthquake, the tower and chapel were built with reinforced concrete. By not applying an exterior skin (marble, tile, brick or even cement plaster) over the concrete, the raw power of the tower is accentuated.