Healy Hall

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Healy Hall
Healy Hall at Georgetown University.jpg
Healy Hall is located in Washington, D.C.
Healy Hall
Healy Hall is located in the District of Columbia
Healy Hall
Healy Hall is located in the US
Healy Hall
Location Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
Coordinates 38°54′26.07″N 77°4′22.73″W / 38.9072417°N 77.0729806°W / 38.9072417; -77.0729806Coordinates: 38°54′26.07″N 77°4′22.73″W / 38.9072417°N 77.0729806°W / 38.9072417; -77.0729806
Built 1877-79
Architect Smithmeyer and Pelz
Architectural style Neo-Medieval
NRHP Reference # 71001003
Significant dates
Added to NRHP May 25, 1971[1]
Designated NHL December 23, 1987[2]

Healy Hall is a National Historic Landmark located at the main campus of Georgetown University. Constructed between 1877-79, the hall was designed by Paul J. Pelz and John L. Smithmeyer, prominent architects who also built the Library of Congress. The structure was named after Patrick Francis Healy, who was the President of Georgetown University at the time.

Healy Hall serves as the main administrative and reception venue of Georgetown, with some portions still being used as classrooms. The building includes the Riggs Library, one of the few extant cast iron libraries in the nation, as well as the elaborate Gaston Hall.


The building was built during the presidency of Patrick Francis Healy after whom it is named.

The construction of the building, from 1877 to 1879, dramatically increased the amount of classroom and living space - at the time it was also used as a dormitory - of what was then a small liberal arts college. The construction also left the university deeply in debt and in possession for years of an enormous pile of dirt as a result of the excavation, with no funds to remove it. As a result of the debts, the Gaston Hall auditorium could not be completed until 1909.

The building was listed on DC Inventory of Historic Sites in 1964, on the National Register of Historic Places on May 25, 1971, and as a National Historic Landmark on December 23, 1987.

The building was brought to national attention in 1973 when it acted as a prominent background for the film The Exorcist. In 1990 the interior hall and also the second story of the building featured in The Exorcist III.


Healy displays several Baroque paintings from the university art collection

Built in a Neo-Medieval style that combines elements of Romanesque, Early Gothic, Late Gothic and Early Renaissance, the building contains the Office of the President; Georgetown's Department of Classics; the Kennedy Institute of Ethics; and the Bioethics Research Library.

Notable rooms in Healy include Riggs Library, one of the few extant cast iron libraries in the nation; the Philodemic Room, the meeting room for the Philodemic Society, one of the oldest collegiate debating clubs in the nation; the grand Hall of Cardinals; the historic Constitution Room; and the Carroll Parlor, which houses several notable pieces from the university's art collection.

Perhaps the grandest space in the building is Gaston Hall, Georgetown's "Jewel in the Crown",[3] the 750-seat auditorium which has played host to multitudes of world leaders. Gaston Hall, located on the third and fourth floors and named for Georgetown's first student, William Gaston, is decorated with the coats of arms of the Jesuit colleges and universities and rich allegorical scenes painted by notable Jesuit artist Brother Francis C. Schroen. Schroen also created the intricate paintings found in the Carroll Parlor and on the ceiling of the Bioethics Reference Center's Hirst Reading Room.

Clock hands[edit]

Healy Clocktower is 200 ft (61 m) high.

The hands of the Healy Clock Tower have been subjected to many thefts, as per the university tradition.[4] Historically, students would steal the hands and mail them to the person they wished to visit the campus, most notably sent to the Vatican, where they were blessed by Pope John Paul II and then returned to the university.[5][6] One such incident caused significant damage to the clock mechanism, however, and security has been increased as a result in recent years, decreasing the incidence of the theft.[7] These measures have not prevented students from successfully obtaining the hands however, as they are captured every five to six years, such as in the fall of 2005 by Drew Hamblen (SFS ’07) and Wyatt Gjullin (COL ’09).[8] The hands were stolen once again during the evening between April 29 and April 30, 2012, and supposedly sent to Barack Obama but the hands ended up lost in the mail.[9] Most recently, the clock hands were stolen during the evening between December 9th and December 10th, 2014.[10]

Image gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ Listing at the National Park Service
  3. ^ Georgetown's Jewel in the Crown
  4. ^ Heberle, Robert (2005-09-27). "Healy Clock Hands Stolen Over Weekend". The Hoya. Retrieved 2007-03-28. 
  5. ^ Heberle, Robert (2005-10-07). "Pilfering A GU Landmark". The Hoya. Retrieved 2007-03-28. 
  6. ^ Sheridan, Patrick (2006-01-31). "Healy Duo Receives One Year Probation". The Hoya. Retrieved 2007-03-28. 
  7. ^ Balz, Chrissy A. (2005-11-08). "Healy Clock Theft Has Roots in GU History". The Hoya. Retrieved 2007-03-28. 
  8. ^ Heberle, Robert (2005-10-14). "Students Confess In Clock Case". The Hoya. Retrieved 2007-03-28. 
  9. ^ Hinchliffe, Emma (2012-05-17). "Clock Hands Tradition Rekindled". The Hoya. Retrieved 2014-06-25. 
  10. ^ http://blog.georgetownvoice.com/2014/12/10/gupd-confirms-the-healy-clock-hands-were-stolen/