De La Roche Hall, St. Bonaventure University
De La Roche Hall rose out of the ashes from the fire that took Lynch Hall in 1933. St. Bonaventure decided to erect a new science building on the site of Lynch Hall. The first two floors of Lynch Hall remained although damaged by smoke and water. Using the remains of Lynch Hall as a base, architect. Chester Oakley redesigned the building which became De La Roche, named in memory of Fr. Joseph de La Roche d' Allion, OFM, who was believed to be the first European to discover oil in North America.
Backstory and Context
According to legend, Fr. Joseph de La Roche d' Allion, OFM was a 17th century Franciscan missionary priest from France. He left the town of Dieppe, France on April 24, 1625 and landed in Quebec on June 19th of that same year. In 1626, Fr. de la Roche went to live with the Attiwandarons, also known as the Neutrals. They were known as the Neutrals because their land sat between Huron and Iroquois lands. Fr. de la Roche settled on the bank of the Niagara River. The Hurons were afraid that he might set up trade between France and the Neutrals, so the Hurons convinced the Neutrals that Fr. de la Roche was a sorcerer which sent him fleeing for his life back to Huron territory (O'Leary 7).
It used to be widely believed that in the summer of 1627, Fr. de la Roche joined a group of nomad Native Americans moving south along the course of the Genesee River to the territory of present day Cuba Lake (Dedication Booklet). This is based on his mention of a"very good oil" used by the Native Americans (Dedication Booklet). However, since this is in the context of describing their food, it's unlikely he is referring to petroleum. Nonetheless, the misunderstanding of the text of his letter, his name De La Roche meaning "of the rock" and petroleum meaning "oil of the rock" in Latin, and Cuba Lake's proximity to St. Bonaventure, and the inspiration for the name of the new science building in 1934 becomes apparent. A translation of a letter he wrote describing his journey is available here.
To construct De La Roche Hall, the two remaining floors of Lynch were gutted out and a third floor was added. The exterior was built with red brick and a red Spanish tile roof was added. Bas-relief plaques were placed above the entrance on the front of the building. The plaque above the window has a cross at its center that represents Divine wisdom or science of religion. Above the cross is a pen representing the arts and below the cross is a compass representing the sciences ("Campus Architecture"). The plaque over the doorway depicts oil wells.
De La Roche Hall is currently the site of science and computer classes here on campus. In addition, it is one of the oldest buildings on campus. It is also home to one of the infamous ghost stories here on campus.
It is told that at one point a fire took place on the third floor of the building killing a student typing a paper late at night.
The story holds that often times a light is seen shining bright from the windows late at night on the third floor.
Some hold that the ghost of the student is still trying to finish his paper. Others hold that he had finished the paper but he now returns searching for the remains of it. In either case, there is a diligent student that still lurks on the third floor.
One of the more interesting backstories with De La Roche, is that before basketball games in the 60s and 70s, students would do a "hanging" of a dummy representing the opposing team on the trees in front of the building. This was to show how the opponents would meet their defeat to the Bonnies.