Copley Hall

This building is named for Father Thomas Copley S.J. who arrived in St. Mary’s City in 1636. His background was different from the other Jesuits, in that he was of noble birth. He was able to claim credit for 48 men in the building of the colony and this entitled him to 10,000 acres of land. In 1645 a Puritan buccaneer plundered St. Inigoes and St. Mary City carrying off Father Copley to England where he spent two years in prison, but upon failure to be convicted was banished and somehow made his way back to Maryland. Father Copley is believed to have drafted the Act of Toleration, the first granting of religious freedom in North America. This Act contained many of the same sentiments and expressions set forth by his grandfather, Sir Thomas Copley, more than sixty years earlier.

Original Construction

  • Date: Begun in 1930, completed in 1932
  • Area: 99,286 gst
  • Architect: Emile G. Perrot


October, 2005 February, 2006

  • Area: Copely Crypt And Crypt Flooring
  • Architect: Saurabh Gupta, MEP Solutions, Inc.
  • Summary: Steam leaks were repaired under the Copley Crypt; replaced steam piping as well as traps in this area.  Repaired Crypt flooring.


Copley Hall (along with White-Gravenor) has been referred to as a “Sermon in Stone” It bears the Latin inscription across the main gable which when translated reads:

“Loyola’s fortune still may hope to thrive

If men and mould like those of old survive”.

The tower to the north of that gable carries aloft the Cross and the Seal of United States. The upper part of the gable has a large seal of Georgetown. The three story bay window over the entrance has four major seals, (1) Sodality, (2) Athletics (for physical education on which are carved six emblems for baseball, football, track, tennis, golf and basketball), (3) The Philodemic (for the Debating Society, the oldest in the U.S.), and (4) The Journal (for Writers).

The south gable bears three historic emblems: (1) the family crest for the family of St. Ignatius, “Onaz y Loyola” the founder of the Jesuits, (2) the Lily of the seal of the University of Paris where Ignatius was educated and founded the Jesuits and (3) the seal of the Society of Jesus –IHS– surrounded by a crown of thorns. The large bay window to the extreme north commemorates in stone twelve eminent Georgetown men, leaders in their professions. Those best known are:

  • JUSTICE carrying the name of Edward Douglas White, of the class of 1862 who became Chief Justice of the United States in 1910. He presided at the dedication of the John Carroll Statue.
  • LAW carrying the name of Gaston who was an associate justice in North Carolina and served in Congress.  He is probably best known on campus as Georgetown’s first student.
  • POETRY is represented by James Ryder Randall, the author of “Maryland, My Maryland” who was admitted in 1848. 
  • ART is represented by William W. Corcoran, who was attending in 1811, who founded in 1869 the Corcoran Gallery of Art and also was the first president of the Georgetown Alumni Association.

On the first floor of the north wing there is the Reading Lounge for the Senior Class. At the west end of the room there is a spacious fireplace above which for a time was mounted the head of a buffalo shot in 1872 by Colonel William Cody (Buffalo Bill) given by him to General Sheridan and finally made its way to an alumnus who donated it to Georgetown.

On January 23, 1946 Copley Hall was the scene of a most unique event, the reception honoring Navy Chaplain, Father Joseph Timothy O’Callahan S.J. following his receipt of the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Truman at the White House earlier that day. The affair was attended by the highest levels of dignitaries of Church and State. Father O’Callahan’s citation read:

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Chaplain on board the U.S.S. Franklin when that vessel was fiercely attacked by enemy Japanese aircraft during offensive operations near Kobe, Japan on 19 March 1945. A valiant and forceful leader, calmly braving the perilous barriers of flame and twisted metal to aid his men and his ship, Lieutenant Commander O’Callahan groped his way through smoke-filled corridors to the open flight deck and into the mist of violently exploding bombs, shells, rockets and other armament. men of all faiths; he With the ship rocked by incessant explosions, with debris and fragments raining down and fires ranging in ever increasing fury, he ministered to the wounded and dying, comforting and encouraging men of all faiths; he organized and led fire-fighting crews into the blazing inferno on the flight deck; he directed the jettisoning of live ammunition and the flooding of the magazine; he manned a hose to cool hot, armed bombs rolling dangerously on the listing deck, continuing his efforts, despite searing, suffocating smoke which forced men to fall back gasping and imperiled others who replaced them. Serving with courage, fortitude and deep spiritual strength, Lieutenant Commander O’Callahan inspired the gallant officers and men of the Franklin to fight heroically and with profound faith in the face of almost certain death and to return their stricken ship to port.”

He also received the Purple Heart for wounds received from shrapnel during this incident. A 1956 movie, “Battle Stations”, based on the life of Father O’Callahan was released.

Father O’Callahan had received a Masters of Arts Degree, and a licentiate in Sacred Theology from Georgetown University. He was the first military chaplain of any faith ever to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. The Captain of the ship characterized him as, “The bravest man I ever saw.” This great feat was accomplished without the use of arms. Thus, Georgetown, honoring one of its sons, continues its rendezvous with history!

During the school year ’64 – 65 Bill Clinton (FS ’68) lived in Room 225 Loyola Hall; in ’65 – ’66 he lived in Room 505 Harbin; in ’66 – ’67 he lived in Room 410 Copley. During ’67 – ’68 he ventured into off campus housing at 4513 Potomac Avenue. On January 20, 1993 he resumed using off campus housing by moving into 1600                   Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. 


Renovation Summaries:

In 1971 an additional fire escape was added by Copley Lounge. In 1981 a new heating system (along with New North) was installed and a window replacement took place as well as air-conditioning of St. William’s Chapel and Copley Lounge. The fire alarm system was replaced in 1987, the emergency power system was updated and a ground floor renovation along with asbestos removal took place in 1988. A fire stair addition was constructed in 1993 under the 1992 deferred maintenance program.

This building is part of the western hub of the Cambridge type quadrangle (also referred by some sources as the Andrew White Quadrangle) of the Campus. Anchored along with Healy Hall they form the western side, while White-Gravenor to the North and Lauinger Library to the South with the fourth side open to express outreach to the community.

Copley Hall is primarily a residence hall containing 324 dorm beds. Steam tunnels connect Copley with Healy and Dahlgren Chapel. It houses the Copley Lounge, St. Williams Chapel and the Crypt of North American Martyrs. This building underwent a $12.5 million dollar renovation during 1994 and 1995.